Australia has one of the highest rates of illicit methamphetamine usage in the world… and Life Education is responding by redeveloping an upper primary module relating to legal and illicit drugs, to incorporate the facts about ice.
Research released recently in the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) provides a credible estimate of the number of regular and dependent users of methamphetamines in Australia, and tracks this over recent times.
The results of this latest work support claims being made across our communities for some time now that this problem was getting much worse. The data released in the MJA highlights the very substantial increase in levels of regular (at least monthly) and dependent (impaired control of use) use of methamphetamines over the last 5 years.
A group of researchers led by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW estimated that in 2013/14 there were 269,000 regular users of methamphetamines, comprising 2% of the population aged 15-54 years. Of these, 1.24% or 160,000 were dependent users.
These rates of usage were more than double estimated levels in 2008/09.
The highest rate of dependent use in 2013/14 and the largest increase over the last 5 years was amongst young people aged 15-24 years.
This highlights the need for a comprehensive strategy to prevent first use and the transition into regular use amongst young people.
With the benefit of funding being made available by the Australian Government Department of Health, we are currently redeveloping our upper primary module relating to legal and illicit drugs, including ice. If a school community so chooses, we will have the capability to lead a well-supported discussion of ice when delivering this program to upper primary school students. Beyond the student, this redeveloped module will also include resources for teachers and parents. We intend to have this new module available for delivery in primary school communities in Term 4 2016.
We also intend to significantly enhance our secondary program to better address this issue in an age appropriate manner with older students. We hope to have more to say about developments on this front soon.