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Cocaine and Meth on the Rise - Implications for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing

Cocaine and Meth on the Rise - Implications for Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing

The most recent report from the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring program (report 21) has just been released. The report is based on national data collected between August and October 2023. Let’s take a look at the key findings and what it means for workplaces.

  • Consumption of illicit drugs is on the rise, while consumption of alcohol continues to decline.

  • Notably, consumption of cocaine recorded a 19% increase on the previous year, with consumption higher in capital cities than in regional areas.

  • Methylamphetamine usage has also risen, with consumption 17% higher than last year.

  • Conversely, heroin consumption decreased by 7%.

  • Consistent with previous reporting periods, regional alcohol consumption is above that of the capital cities.

The size of the problem

  • In the year from August 2022 to August 2023, Australians consumed over 30 tonnes of illicit drugs as follows:

o Cannabis (THC) – 13.6 tonnes

o Methylamphetamine (ice) – 10.6 tonnes

o Cocaine – 4 tonnes

o Heroin and MDMA – just under 1 tonne each

  • Looking at the dollars, it is estimated that between August 2022 and August 2023, we spent $12.4 billion on methylamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and MDMA, with methylamphetamine accounting for 85% of this expenditure ($10.5 billion).

  • When cannabis is also considered, the total estimated street value of the 5 drugs increases to $12.7 billion.

DASA: Australia's Estimated annual drug consumption


About 1.9 tonnes of cocaine was consumed in New South Wales, while the amount consumed in every other state and territory added up to 2.1 tonnes, ACIC found.


A site in Sydney recorded the country's highest cocaine use per capita.


The largest increase was seen in WA, where cocaine consumption went up 55 per cent — however, this was from a much smaller base when compared to other states.

Four Corners lifts the lid on the shadowy underworld of Australia's booming cocaine trade.


Queensland consumed 300 kilograms more cannabis than NSW, the report stated, despite being home to about 3 million fewer people.

Per capita, Sydney and Melbourne consumed less cannabis than other capital cities. On average, the long-term cannabis intake was "substantially higher" in regional Australia than in capital cities,


The amount of methamphetamine consumed increased in every single state and territory. Adelaide was the biggest per capita user of methamphetamine, but on average, more was consumed in regional areas than in capital cities, the report found.

For the full report click here

What is very clear from the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program’s recent report is that illicit drugs are well and truly a part of our society. In fact, these findings highlight the ongoing and increasing use of drugs of abuse in the community. It is not surprising then that illicit substances find their way into our workplaces, with the potential to compromise an organisation’s safety and wellbeing.

The best way a workplace can manage drug and alcohol risk is to start with a comprehensive and robust drug and alcohol policy, implement workplace drug and alcohol testing and support that program with ongoing education and training.

DASA is a market leading provider of drug and alcohol services to workplaces across Australia. With 16 years’ experience in the field, we have the expertise and resources necessary to support your workplace drug and alcohol testing program - from inception to successful implementation. Call us today on 1300 230 231 or email us at to see how DASA can help you.


DASA (Drug and Alcohol Solutions Australia) is proud to be leading the way in workplace drug and alcohol testing services throughout Australia. Whether your need is for workplace drug and workplace alcohol testing, advice on drug and alcohol policy or ideas on how to communicate your workplace expectations, policies and procedures to your staff, DASA can help. We have the experience, technical expertise and people to lead you to the right solution.



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