Most popular drugs per state revealed
As coronavirus lockdown took hold of Australia, drug use soared to record highs, new data from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission reveals.
The 2020 wastewater report, which samples sewage for traces of illicit drugs, shows record highs of methylamphetamine and heroin use in regional areas throughout April and record highs in cities of cocaine and cannabis use in June.
Meanwhile, the population-weighted average consumption of fentanyl in regions and oxycodone in capital cities dropped to record low levels in April.
From December to April, there was a decrease in the amount of MDMA consumed in both regions and cities, while nicotine use increased in cities and decreased in regions.
Alcohol decreased in both regions and cities - with the consumption rate hitting a record low in the nation's capitals.
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) chief executive Michael Phelan said despite border closures and lockdown measures, all drugs monitored by the program had continued to be available throughout the country.
He noted that while the pandemic appeared to have caused some price fluctuations, these were mostly at a wholesale level and within previously recorded levels. Even where they were not, Dr Phelan said it had not appeared to affect purchasing.
"Even in locations where considerable price increases have been reported, consumption of some drugs has increased," he said.
While these figures cover the nation as a whole, ACIC was able to provide a state-by-state breakdown that shows who was using what the most.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Sydney remains Australia's cocaine capital, with the second highest levels on record noted in June this year. There was a significant decrease in cocaine use between December 2019 and April 2020 in the NSW regions.
Alcohol consumption dropped to record lows in Sydney in April, with a significant decrease in regional areas too. The report shows just a month later, as the pubs finally reopened, alcohol use in the city soared, sitting just under pre-COVID levels.
While cannabis use had been on a steady decline in Sydney since October 2019, uptake spiked to record highs in June, while the regions only recorded a slight increase between December and April.
Heroin use in NSW's regions soared to record highs in April, while a major spike was noted between December 2019 and February 2020 in Sydney, which has been declining since.
Nicotine use increased significantly in data recorded in February and June in Sydney, while there was a record level of use in the regions in December.
Queenslanders were drinking at regular levels throughout lockdown, with only a slight decrease recorded in Brisbane during April. Cannabis use rose in both the capital city and regions during the same month.
Brisbane registered a record high in cocaine use during February, while the regions experienced a small spike during April when city use of the party drug decreased significantly.
Smoking in regional areas appeared to increase, with record levels recorded in April, though the actual rise in uptake was not overly significant compared with the area's average rate.
Regional use of methylamphetamine, however, soared in April.
Victoria was one of the only states not to experience a decrease in heroin use at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with levels rising slightly after February 2020 as use across the rest of the country declined in most capital cities.
The report claims regional Victoria, along with Tasmania, are the highest users of oxycodone, while the use of methylamphetamine also rose over the reporting period, which researchers say is "part of a long-term pattern".
Cocaine use soared in Melbourne in June 2020 despite the city remaining under heavy lockdown restrictions, while the drug's popularity appeared to decrease in regional Victoria.
There was also a small spike in MDMA use in Melbourne between April and June, though levels were still low.
There was a dramatic increase in methylamphetamine use in regional South Australia in April 2020, with levels exceeding Adelaide's for the first time.
Cannabis use is also on the increase, with researchers highlighting a clear spike during the pandemic. South Australia's regions recorded their highest ever intake levels in April 2020.
Use of MDMA declined significantly in Adelaide between February and April, but intake was closer to pre-covid levels by June.
South Australia is one of only two states to report declining levels of nicotine and alcohol use.
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
Cannabis use is on the rise in the ACT, with the Territory recording its highest levels on record in June 2020.
A new record was also set for cocaine use, while heroin intake dropped sharply.
In the nation's capital smoking levels increased, which appears to be part of an ongoing trend.
The Northern Territory was the only part of Australia to note a major spike in MDA use, which declined sharply in every other state.
MDA is similar to MDMA, where usage levels in the Territory are also high compared with most other parts of the country.
There was also a significant increase in cannabis use in the Top End, with a record high for Darwin recorded in February and another spike recorded in June. Levels remained high in regional areas.
Nicotine levels are also on the rise in the Northern Territory, while oxycodone, methylamphetamine, cocaine and fentanyl use are all declining.
Western Australia is one of only two states that recorded a drop in nicotine or alcohol use.
Perth's methylamphetamine use more than halved between April and June despite intake steadily increasing from June 2019 to April 2020.
While there are typically high levels of heroin intake in Perth, this also declined sharply from April to June.
The state also recorded a steady increase in cannabis use and a record high cocaine intake.
Researchers said in the report the state had the highest levels of methylone use in the country. Methylone is a highly addictive synthetic drug that has similar effects to MDMA.
Tasmania, along with regional Victoria, has the highest use of oxycodone in the country and also one of the highest levels of cannabis intake.
Alcohol use declined steadily across the state, as did methylamphetamine intake.
Researchers said Tasmania's historically high use of MDA had declined over the past year and "is now no longer a feature of that state".
Originally published as Most popular drugs per state revealed