Models of intervention and care for psychostimulant users, 2nd edition - monograph series no. 51

Chapter 2: Prevalence and patterns of psychostimulant use

Page last updated: April 2004

Linda Jennera and Rebecca McKetinb

a Centre for Mental Health Studies, University of Newcastle, New South Wales
b National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, New South Wales

Key points:
  • Use of psychostimulants is widespread nationally, with methamphetamine the most readily available type of amphetamine in Australia.

  • The availability of psychostimulants to Australian consumers has increased substantially over the past five years.

  • The use of cocaine, while still much less prevalent than the use of amphetamines, may be higher in New South Wales and Victoria than other states and use by primary heroin users in certain locations such as Sydney may have been influenced by the recent heroin shortage.

  • Psychostimulants tend to be used in conjunction with other drugs particularly nicotine, cannabis and alcohol, and benzodiazepines are also frequently used by regular amphetamine users.

  • Use of psychostimulants, particularly ecstasy, among certain groups such as dance party attendees, youth and the gay community is widespread.

  • Injection of amphetamines is common and there are increasing reports of cocaine and to a much lesser extent ecstasy injection.

  • Increasing popularity of injection increases public health concerns due to the adverse consequences of use and has implications for appropriate and timely interventions for this population.

  • While numbers of users seeking treatment for psychostimulant use is still considerably lower than for other drug classes, treatment demand is increasing, particularly by injecting drug users (IDUs).

  • Responses to psychostimulant-related incidents by emergency personnel such as ambulance services are reported to be increasing in some states (e.g. Queensland), which has implications for pre-hospital management strategies and resource issues.