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Aussie wastewater analysis finds stabilisation of ice use

The latest analysis of Australia’s wastewater from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has shown use of crystal methylamphetamine – commonly referred to as ice – has stabilised across the country.

In the third test of its kind, 54 testing sites were chosen, in both city and regional areas, with the analysis picking up traces of 14 different drugs, covering just over 60% of Australia’s population.

The ACT and New South Wales showed small overall increases in ice use, with an overall drop of use in the Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. Recent water testing of Adelaide's wastewater revealed a 25% spike in methamphetamine use in the past year.

ACIC previously identified the value that wastewater sampling provided compared to other methods of drug-use monitoring.

“The strengths of wastewater analysis include that it is in near real-time, it is non-intrusive and is able to measure average drug use in both large and small populations,” it said previously.

“Further, wastewater analysis offers flexibility to address emerging problems and identify previously unknown drug threats and consumption patterns.”

ACIC’s Shane Nelson told ABC Online that while the results on ice use are generally looking better, there is still concern over the abuse of prescription medication in regional Australia.

"We have concerns about the level of use of oxycodone and fentanyl. These are pharmaceutical opioids with abuse potential," he said.

Regional Queensland and parts of Tasmania and Victoria had the highest overall usage rate of oxycodone, with the highest usage rates in capital cities in South Australia and Tasmania.

Usage patterns for fentanyl were similar, with regional centres in almost all states showing values well above the national average.