Methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

  • Review cover artwork

The Alcohol and Other Drugs Knowledge Centre as part of its commitment to knowledge exchange has produced a new review about methamphetamine use. The use of methamphetamine and the related harms has been the subject of growing concern in Australia, with Australians rating it the drug of most concern in the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

The most commonly used drugs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities are tobacco, cannabis and alcohol. However, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are experiencing a disproportionate burden of harm from amphetamines, including methamphetamine. Methamphetamines are the fourth most commonly used drugs by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Review of methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people was written by Drs Mieke Snijder and Stephanie Kershaw from the University of Sydney. It describes the historical and social factors that influence the use of methamphetamine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and describes how family, peers, community and a strong connection to culture and country can be protective factors.

The review shows that a mix of individual, family and community factors are influencing the use of methamphetamine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as are social and historical factors.

Several studies report that there has been an overall increase in the use of methamphetamine among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The review finds that there is currently little evidence available on effective responses to addressing methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people specifically. The review therefore draws together best practice examples of programs addressing methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and combines this with evidence for effective approaches among mainstream populations, overseas Indigenous peoples and evidence from other illicit drug approaches with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

There is currently no national policy or strategy specific for methamphetamine use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The review suggests that serious investments from the Commonwealth, state and territory governments are needed and that effective prevention of methamphetamine use and related harms among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people requires an integrated approach targeting social determinants, health and crime outcomes.

 

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