The recent ACIC wastewater report has provided us with valuable insights into the usage levels of some drugs and location. This research, alongside other regular state and national reporting provide us with a robust picture of the alcohol, tobacco and other drug use issues the Tasmanian community faces.
Overall, the picture is consistent. There are more Tasmanians facing issues with alcohol, tobacco and drug use. While the fundamental issue of a system that lacks adequate education and treatment access remains unsolved.
“We aren’t currently meeting demand for treatment, says Alison Lai, CEO of ATDC, the peak body for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs services in Tasmania. “There are people in our community who are asking for a hand to step out of the alcohol and drug use cycle and we simply aren’t able to help them.” Across the board we need more treatment places. Treatment can range from group-based or one-on-one counselling through to residential detox. According to the recent Siggins Millar report, the sector in Tasmania remains underfunded to the tune of $6 million.
“To drive down demand, we need to provide those in the community who are impacted, including those who have been charged with possession offences, with information, education and pathways to support, treatment and recovery, says Alison.
• At a national level, alcohol and tobacco remain the highest-consumed substances causing harm. One Australian dies every 90 mins from alcohol attributed disease – one third of these is cancer.
• While the ACIC report doesn’t allow for the monitoring of cannabis use. Alcohol and other drug service providers across the state inform us that cannabis use remains the main drug of concern, after alcohol and tobacco and accounts for around one-in-three episodes of treatment.
• We can see an increase in the use of prescription drugs oxycodone and fentanyl across the State. These are legally prescribed pain medications that Tasmanians access to treat chronic pain. We can’t identify from the ACIC data if people are accessing oxycodone illegally, simply that it is present.
• Amphetamines continue to cause an increasing strain on our community. We know from service provider data that use and addiction is increasing in men and women from a wide variety of social and economic backgrounds.
“Drug use in Tasmania is a health issue. It doesn’t conform to long-held beliefs around social and economic disadvantage. Every family faces this in some form at some point. Better education and treatment options are vital if we want to reduce the harm the Tasmanian community is facing”, said Alison.