Alcohol and Psycho-stimulant use 

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Release date: 13 October 2010

Levels of psycho-stimulant (e.g. amphetamine or cocaine) use are comparatively low amongst the general population of drinkers, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has found.

Following reports that some of the violence on licensed premises might be attributable to the use of drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine, the Bureau investigated the level of alcohol and psycho-stimulant use in the Australian population using the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

The 2007 survey involved 23,356 respondents (aged 12 years and over). It is both voluntary and anonymous.

Analysis of the survey data showed that level of psycho-stimulant use was low among the population of alcohol consumers. This finding was evident even among those drinkers who reported drinking most frequently and in the most risky manner.

Only 1.8 per cent of daily drinkers reported recent (last 12 months) use of amphetamines. The corresponding figure for cocaine use was 1.5 per cent.

Use of amphetamines and cocaine was higher for those whose drinking placed them at high risk of short term alcohol related harm, with 12.9 per cent reporting recent use of amphetamines and 8.6 per cent reporting recent use of cocaine.

Even amongst this group, however, the vast majority of heavy drinkers were not users of amphetamines or cocaine.

The Bureau did, however, enter a note of caution regarding its findings.

While the national survey data indicate that the overall proportion of alcohol consumers who are also users of psycho-stimulants is quite low, it is possible that psycho-stimulant use among heavy drinkers on licensed premises is high in some locations even if it is not high among the general population of heavy drinkers.

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 9231-9190 or 0419-494-408