Australia is known for many things, our beaches, warm weather and unique wildlife to name just a few. Among the newest things that our country is being linked with is our high drug use, especially with drugs like cocaine.
During the 1970s and 80s cocaine experienced a significant surge in popularity before being replaced in the 1990s when a heroin crises rocked our shores. In the modern era, crystal meth, also known as ice, has been touted as the number one illicit drug gripping the population. Despite the headlines and widespread attention heroin and ice receive, the two drugs that are number one and two in terms of common usage are actually cannabis and cocaine.
Most Common Users of Cocaine
The perception of cocaine is that it’s a high-end party drug primarily used by the rich and famous. There are plenty of celebrity anecdotes regarding cocaine use and many a celebrity has been caught with it on their person.
Even our sports stars are not immune to the lure of the illicit substance, with players in our Rugby league, Rugby union and even AFL both using and distributing the drug during the last few years. Even a chairman of an NRL team was famously caught with a bag of suspicious white powder.
Reported cocaine use during the 12 months before June 2017 had more than doubled since the same time in 2004, from 1% to 2.5%. The amount of people who admit to using the drug at some point in their life has also had a drastic increase. In 2004 it was sitting at 4.7% while at the same time in 2016 it had increased to almost 9% and these are just reported numbers, unreported cocaine use among the population is much higher. All this points to one conclusion, cocaine use in Australia is the highest it’s been in decades.
According to the Alcohol and Drug foundation calls to the drug info ADF helpline regarding cocaine have more than doubled since the same time last year. Australians, especially those in regional areas are using more cocaine than ever according to the latest Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report.
The data shows that Cocaine use has tripled in regional Australia since August 2016. Further data released by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research showed that offences involving cocaine use and possession from June 2013 to 2015 had increased by a staggering 50%.
ACIC estimates in a report that between August 2016 and July 2017 more than three tonnes of cocaine was used in the twelve month period. This is in spite of law enforcement’s best efforts to shut down the black market drug operations through ongoing seizures, and arrests of manufacturers and distributors. During 2017 the Federal Police seized more cocaine than the estimated demand, and the streets were still flooded with the drug.
The use in major cities such as Sydney has doubled, and ACIC reported that for the 2015-16 period there were 2, 777 recorded cocaine detection’s at the border, 3951 national cocaine seizures and 2592 national cocaine arrests.
Cost of Cocaine
Australia has some of the highest prices of cocaine in the world, with cocaine costing an average of $300 a gram for the powder based substance, while overseas the price is usually between $65 and $130, depending on the country.
The huge amounts of profit that can be made selling in Australia and the high demand has seen the rise of more than a few shady drug operations looking to make a profit. Crack cocaine is the most predominant and the most harmful form used in many parts of the world, while in Australia it’s rare, with most users preferring the powder form.
Despite these high numbers and the substantial increase of people using the drug, data also reveals that cocaine isn’t used as regularly as its fellow illicit drugs like meth, heroin or MDMA. The 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows that 64% of the people who used cocaine only did so once or twice a year which is one suggestion as to why there has been such an increase.
Many theories have been put forward to explain this substantial increase, including the ease with which it can be acquired nowadays, with reports collected by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre revealing that 43% of the people surveyed had easy access to the drug.
An increase in importations has seen cocaine flood the market, between July and December of 2017 more than 600kg of cocaine was seized at our borders, and that’s just the shipments they managed to intercept, a common tactic used by drug cartels is to allow authorities to capture a load as a distraction while ferry the rest away. Tactics like this have seen Sydney dethroned as the central hub of importation, and an increase in seizures in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
Where is it Imported From?
Supply routes have also been increasing, in 2000 only 22 countries were used, by 2008-2009, that numbers increased to 46. Colombia is said to be the most prominent source for cocaine importation into Australia by the ACIC Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. Most of it is by major crime networks backed by cartels based in countries like Colombia, Mexico and Panama.
A decrease in the quality of alternatives has also been suggested, with reports alleging that ecstasy and other party drugs have seen a significant decline in quality in recent years. The effects of cocaine vary depending on the dose, method of use and what it is cut with, however, a general rule of thumb is that the high lasts between 15-30 mins depending on the dosage. It also has a half-life of one hour, which means 50% of the drug is out of your system in an hour.
Regardless of the reason, it’s clear from the gathered data that cocaine has seen a significant increase in widespread use throughout all of Australia. Only time will tell if this continues to increase or if it will return to obscurity as it has in the past.
If you are caught with cocaine you need to get the advice of a professional. Click here for more information.