Alarming Drug Epidemic Hits Australia Unprepared

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By Athena Yenko | June 4, 2014 1:08 PM EST

Drug experts are warning Australia of the looming drug epidemic that will be hitting the country sooner. Authorities are one in thinking that the epidemic will hit Australia unprepared.

The looming epidemic involved the rising abuse of amphetamine across the nation, drug researcher Associate Professor John Fitzgerald told news.com.au.

Fitzgerald noted that amphetamines had uncontrollably spread across Australia that it reached areas where "street drug crime" was already widespread. Comparing amphetamine with heroin, Fitzgerald said that amphetamine epidemic was exceptional.

"Except for cannabis it is (the most popular drug) ... Cocaine use isn't as high as amphetamines," Fitzgerald said.

At present, it is too late to stop the looming plague.

"It's hard to tell where it's going to go ... We weren't well prepared for this change. It's not going to go away quickly," Fitzgerald added.

"The thing with people who use amphetamines is you can't communicate with them. They're off in another world. You see drug trends all of the time. But it is now staring us in the face - I don't think we were really ready," Jamie Pitts, chief executive of Odyssey House, said.

Current data from the Australian Institute of Criminology's (AIC) showed dramatic increase in detainees arrested for amphetamine abused.

From East Perth, 43 per cent of urine samples test positive to amphetamine, 41 per cent in Brisbane, 23 per cent in Adelaide and 26 per cent in Surry Hills. Forty-six per cent of property offenders, 46 per cent of drug offenders, 28 per cent of violent offenders and 20 per cent of driving offenders tested positive to amphetamine, according to the AIC's data.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being amphetamine at highest level of availability, detainees said amphetamine is at level 8.

In terms of excellent quality or high purity, detainees said Australia has level 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest quality of the drug.

"We see variability in use of amphetamine across Australia. Amphetamine use appears to be particularly common among Kings Cross detainees, where the most recent first quarter 2014 survey shows 61 percent of urine samples test positive to amphetamine. Given that amphetamine use, in particular methamphetamine use, has been associated with an increased risk of violence and aggression, a rise in use among the Australian detainee population is of concern," AIC said.

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