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Aussies Revealed To Be The Biggest Users of Cocaine And MDMA In The World

28 June 2023 | 12:05 pm | Jessie Lynch

Australians are hitting the bags and disco bickies at an alarming rate, according to a new report.

 Australians are the biggest users of cocaine and MDMA.

Australians are the biggest users of cocaine and MDMA. (Wikicommons)

Australia, globally renowned for its vibrant cities, unique wildlife and stunning landscapes, now holds a far more unsettling distinction, with the news that we've again taken the crown as the world's highest users of cocaine and MDMA.

As revealed by the 2023 World Drug Report, published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Australia and New Zealand remain the "highest worldwide" users of cocaine, as both supply and demand for the drug is on the rise.

"The world is currently experiencing a prolonged surge in both supply and demand of cocaine, which is now being felt across the globe and is likely to spur the development of new markets beyond the traditional confines," the UNODC report said.

"Although the global cocaine market continues to be concentrated in the Americas and in Western and Central Europe (with very high prevalence also in Australia), in relative terms it appears that the fastest growth, albeit building on very low initial levels, is occurring in developing markets found in Africa, Asia and South-Eastern Europe."

Meanwhile, ecstasy (MDMA) use remains "by far the highest worldwide", despite the use of the latter decreasing due to COVID lockdowns.

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"The COVID-19 pandemic has had a more lasting impact on the ecstasy market in Australia than in New Zealand," the report said. "The use of ecstasy has declined since the onset of the pandemic, due to market factors such as reduced availability."

As well as this, the report found that cannabis use was “significantly higher than the global average”, with “relatively high” use among teens.

And while the use of methamphetamine had reduced in Australia, the report also showed a worrying trend among current users of the drug. "The annual prevalence of methamphetamine use in the general population of Australia has fallen but among users consumption has become more intensive and is causing greater harm to health," the report said.

Speaking of the global use of substance abuse, Ghada Waly, the executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said, “We are witnessing a continued rise in the number of people suffering from drug use disorders worldwide, while treatment is failing to reach all of those who need it.”

The news that Aussies are hitting the bag and dumping the disco bickies at an alarming rate isn't overly surprising, given the 2022 findings from the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program.

According to the report, Sydney proved to be the cocaine capital of Australia, with the results estimated a whopping 800mg of cocaine use per 1,000 people per day on average. Brisbane and Melbourne used nearly half of that at 450mg per 1,000 people per day, almost five times that of Perth (which used 102mg per 1,000 people per day). 

Australia's methamphetamine use is also deeply concerning, being so high that it is almost larger per capita than most other countries' use of all stimulants. The country also ranks first for illicit substance consumption across 129 cities and 28 countries. 

As well as that, a 2021 special, Australia’s Cocaine Crisis, revealed the insane lengths that drug kingpins go to smuggle massive quantities of the substance in the country, demonstrating just how big an issue abuse of the "party drug" has become Down Under.

“It is an absolute tsunami of drugs entering this country and you can’t blame the police — they’re a little force fighting it at the front end, but we are just being absolutely swamped by drugs, by meth, but mostly by cocaine,” senior correspondent Charles Miranda told host Peter Stefanovic.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s Dr Katie Willis also revealed in the special, "What we know from our wastewater data is that cocaine is a serious drug for the country. Australians are a country of stimulant users – cocaine is a stimulant. All of the data that we have is pointing in the direction of expansion in the cocaine market."

While the reasons behind such high drug use in Australia are multifaceted and complex, certain factors are believed to play significant roles, such as our geographic isolation making it a lucrative market for drug traffickers, with high street prices reflecting this dynamic.

As well as this, Australia's vibrant nightlife and festival scenes may contribute to the popularity of MDMA, which is often associated with party culture.

Given what we now know, it begs the question of how we as a nation can adequately address mental health issues, stress, and social pressures that are known factors in fuelling drug use.