Publications & Reports

Crystalline methamphetamine use and methamphetamine-related harms in Australia.

Louisa Degenhardt, Grant Sara, Rebecca McKetin, Amanda Roxburgh, Timothy Dobbins, Michael Farrell, Lucinda Burns, Wayne D Hall
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Australia, Sydney, Australia.


INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: Concerns about crystal methamphetamine use and harm have increased in multiple countries. This paper describes how changes in the availability and use of crystal methamphetamine have impacted on methamphetamine-related harms in Australia. DESIGN AND METHODS: Data on methamphetamine use were obtained from population-level surveys, health service data and surveys of drug use among sentinel groups of ecstasy users and people who inject drugs. Data were obtained on seizures, arrests, clandestine laboratory detections, hospital separations, mental health unit admissions, drug telephone helpline calls and drug treatment episodes. Segmented linear regression models were fitted to identify changes in these series using log-transformed data where appropriate. RESULTS: The availability of crystal methamphetamine has increased as evidenced by increased laboratory detections, domestic seizures and purity of the seized drug. Population surveys do not report an increase in the number of people who used at least once in the past year. However, more users report using crystal methamphetamine rather than lower-purity powder methamphetamine and more regular use. Indicators of methamphetamine-related harms have increased in parallel with this change. Amphetamine-related helpline calls, drug treatment, arrests and hospital admissions for amphetamine disorders and psychosis all peaked in the mid-2000s, declined for several years and have increased steeply since 2010. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The increased availability and use of crystal methamphetamine have been associated with increased regular use and harms. Treatment is required for those experiencing problems and the capacity of health services to provide care needs to be enhanced.[Degenhardt L, Sara G, Connor JP, McKetin R, Roxburgh A, Dobbins T, Farrell M, Burns L, Hall WD. Crystalline methamphetamine use and methamphetamine-related harms in Australia. Drug Alcohol Rev 2017;36:160-170].


  • Journal: Drug and Alcohol Review
  • Published: 01/03/2017
  • Volume: 36
  • Issue: 2
  • Pagination: 160-170