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Victoria overtakes NSW for highest proportion of cocaine use as drug's popularity continues to surge

25 February 2021 | 3:08 pm | Emma Jones

Two new reports have offered interesting insight into the country's drug use habits, showing the popularity of cocaine continues to rise.

Even despite the global pandemic putting the state into lockdown for most of the year, Victoria has overtaken New South Wales as the state with the highest proportion of cocaine users, according to a report from The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, more than one in 20 people in Victoria used the drug in 2019-2020, which is a doubling of that number compared to 2016-2017. "Victoria overtook NSW for having the most cocaine users as a proportion of the population, with 5.2 per cent compared to 5 per cent. Nationally, 4.2 of Australians said they had used cocaine recently," SMH wrote.

The SMH also wrote that this finding was supporting by "wastewater analysis from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC)." The ACIC found that Victorians took 1.2 tonnes of the drug in the 2019-2020 period, which is a whopping 80% increase in 2016-17's numbers.

However, this isn't to suggest that NSW didn't give it a red hot go. The state still accounts for more than half of the country's estimated cocaine use and ingested a casual 3 tonnes of the stuff in 2019-20.

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Cocaine came in at number 2 of Victorians' drug of preference, following ice (methylamphetamine), but that the drug's popularity has surged over the last few years. MDMA use is up 50% in the last four years, heroin is up 16% and ice's popularity has also risen 46%.

Interestingly, despite usage numbers rising, it seems frequency has stayed relatively low with only 16% of those surveyed admitting to using once a month or more. This can be largely attributed to the extremely high price of the drug. Dr Amy Peacock, the study's lead author, said, "“Cocaine prices in Australia are among the highest globally, which may explain why the frequency of use remains low despite increased availability."

In July, we reported on price hikes of cocaine and other illicit substances skyrocketing due to difficulty getting it into the country and increased pressures of deliverability in lockdown conditions. As the SMH reported, prices of cocaine in Melbourne have risen by $100,000 and now go for approximately $300,000 per kilogram.

In a separate article, concerns were expressed by the growing number of young users of cocaine, and the means they are turning to in order to fund their habit. The NDARC's report showed that while "more than 98 per cent of cocaine users were aged between 20 and 49 and men were more likely to report use than women," the number of users aged between 14 and 19 is also on the rise.

Words by Emma Jones