A new report into Australia’s drug consumption has confirmed what authorities already suspected, Parkes MP Mark Coulton has said.
The first National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program (NWDMP) report details the analysis of 13 illicit and licit drugs in wastewater samples from 51 capital city and regional sites across Australia – including five in regional NSW.
The locations of the test sites have not been released.
The report covered an estimated 14 million people and found methylamphetamine, or ice, was the highest consumed illicit drug tested across all regions.
Mr Coulton was not surprised.
“It’s quite easily manufactured, in some cases it’s manufactured quite locally … and police will close down a lab and another one will pop up because the returns are so great,” he said.
“I’m hearing horrific stories of meth users who have psychotic attacks and cause harm to family members, quite often the ones they love the most.”
The report also found the consumption of opioid pain medications fentanyl and oxycodone were at concerning levels across all jurisdictions, with higher than average fentanyl levels in regional NSW.
“Police in some of my towns tell me that it’s probably up there with methylamphetamine as a problem,” Mr Coulton said.
Some places had “quite a sophisticated operation going on”, Mr Coulton said, with police telling of doctor-shopping and even seniors obtaining and on-selling the prescription drugs. A country paramedic had recently told him of the frequent overdoses – some fatal – they were called to.
“It just goes to show the level of illicit drug use that we have in our towns.”
Mr Coulton said the three-year monitoring program would provide Australia’s first national evidence base of illicit drug usage and distribution, and help shape government and community approaches to illicit drugs.
“It would be dishonest to say that we’ve got all the answers but we’ve identified the problem and we’re putting resources into it and to do nothing is unacceptable,” he said.
“We have to put money into drug and alcohol programs, ultimately that turns into mental health support.
“From the state government perspective they’re putting enormous resources into law and order … to not only crack down on the manufacture and supply, but they get involved in the unlawful behaviour that the taking of these drugs perpetuates.
“Ultimately it will require effort from … the entire community.”