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How the COVID-19 pandemic affected drug use

Ross and Russel
Article image for How the COVID-19 pandemic affected drug use

Use of many illicit drugs surged in Australia during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but methylamphetamine use fell.

Victorians consumed 1216 kilograms of cocaine in the year to August 2020, the latest data from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program reveals.

Capital city population-weighted average consumption of cocaine, MDMA, heroin, oxycodone and cannabis increased in capital cities between April and August 2020.

Meanwhile, city use of methylamphetamine and fentanyl fell in the same time period.

Head of determination, high risk and emerging drugs at the Australian Criminal Intelligence Agency, Shane Neilson, says Melbourne is Australia’s heroin capital.

“In Melbourne the level of consumption of heroin was the highest in the country, and with methylamphetamine it was the second highest in the country,” he said.

Alcohol and nicotine remain the most commonly used substances, with both increasing after lockdown restrictions were imposed.

Nationally, Australians spent about $8.9 billion on illicit drugs in the year to August 2020, with 78 per cent of that money spent of methylamphetamine.

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Ross and Russel
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