New research suggests young tradies in regional towns are among Australia's biggest ice abusers.
New research suggests young tradies in regional towns are among Australia's biggest ice abusers. FILE

Rural tradies among biggest meth users

YOUNG tradies in regional Australia are among the country's biggest ice users, with a new study revealing the drug's use is soaring in rural towns.

Flinders University's National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction director Ann Roche delivered the report to a drug conference in Sydney on Monday.

She said crystal meth use had skyrocketed 150% in regional towns between 2007 and 2013, compared to a 16% increase in major cities.

Ice use increased from affecting 0.8% of rural populations in 2007 to 2% in 2013, the study found.

The research found men aged 18-25 who worked in trades were among the biggest ice users across Australia, including regional areas.

The statistics suggested unemployed people living outside major cities were far less likely to be addicted to the drug than those with jobs or unemployed people in cities - 5.5% of jobless people in metropolitan areas used ice compared to 0.7% in rural areas.

Meanwhile, 2.3% of people with steady jobs in regional Australia reported recently using ice compared to 1.4% in capital cities.

The National Ice Taskforce's final report, published late last year, backed up the claim socio-economic pressures in regional towns contributed to increased ice abuse.

"The challenges that ice poses for services across Australia are exacerbated in regional and remote communities," it found.

"For example, there are often fewer treatment options available and less specialisation by treatment providers.

"This places pressure on general practice and hospitals to manage emerging public health issues, such as ice."

The report echoed Prof Roche's findings about the drug's prevalence among tradespeople.

"Use of methamphetamine is particularly prevalent in industries such as wholesale trade, construction, mining, hospitality and among tradespeople," it found.

"Some of the factors that contribute to this are the demographic profile of the workforce, the ease of access to drugs, and workplace factors that cause fatigue such as long hours, fast-paced work, shift work or fly in-fly out work."

Prof Roche has been contacted for further comment.


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