Increase in drug use during the pandemic: Report

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The use of drugs increased at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia, with ice cream topping the list of illegal substances consumed.

This is the main finding of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s recent wastewater monitoring program, which includes samples taken over one week in April and June this year.

“Cases of record drug use were reported during the period covered by the report,” the ACIC said on Thursday.

Nicotine and alcohol are still the most commonly used legal drugs measured by the program, but methamphetamine or ice cream are still the most commonly used illegal drugs.

Methamphetamine and heroin use was more prevalent in the regions, while cocaine, cannabis and nicotine dominated in the capitals.

Regional use of fentanyl was record-low during the observation period, while use of oxycodone and alcohol was record-low in the capitals.

The ACIC samples cover about 56 percent of the population, or more than 13 million people.

Some 55 wastewater treatment plants parked in the collection area, which monitored the consumption of 13 substances.

The CEO of the ACIC, Michael Phelan, said that despite the restrictions imposed in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, criminal groups operated on a “business as usual” basis, importing, manufacturing and trading illegal drugs.

“The findings of this report highlight the resilience and diversity of regional drug markets in Australia,” he said.

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