Use Patterns

This section provides information about the ways in which Australians use methamphetamine. It addresses how much and how often Australians use methamphetamine, the most common types used, and methods and locations of use.

This section draws on data from individuals aged 14 years and older, from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2017). The NDSHS is a triennial general population survey of Australians' awareness, attitudes, and behaviours relating to alcohol and other drug use. It is the best data source available to provide a national population demographic profile of Australians’ patterns of methamphetamine use.

To be consistent with terminology used in the NDSHS, this section of the NADK uses the term meth/amphetamine. The NDSHS defines meth/amphetamine as including speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin®, and pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

What proportion of Australians have used meth/amphetamine?

6.3% of Australians have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime, 1.4% have used in the past 12 months, 0.6% have used in the past month, and 0.3% have used in the past week.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

Has the prevalence of meth/amphetamine use in Australia changed over time?

The proportion of Australians who had used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months was highest in 1998 (3.7%). Since then, the prevalence of meth/amphetamine use has decreased over time and was 1.4% in 2016.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey and 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

Are men or women in Australia more likely to have used meth/amphetamine?

Australian men are more likely than women to have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime, the past 12 months, the past month and the past week.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

Has the prevalence of meth/amphetamine use in Australia changed over time by gender?

Between 1995 and 2016, Australian men were more likely than Australian women to have used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months. The highest prevalence of meth/amphetamine use by men occurred in 1998 (5.0%), and by women in 2001 (2.7%). Prevalence of meth/amphetamine use was lowest for both men (1.8%) and women (1.0%) in 2016.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey and 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

Are younger or older Australians more likely to have used meth/amphetamine?

Australians aged 25-39 years are more likely than other age groups to have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime, the past 12 months, the past month, and the past week.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Has the prevalence of meth/amphetamine use in Australia changed over time by age?

Between 2001 and 2016 Australians aged 20-29 were more likely than other age groups to have used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months. Australians aged 50 years and older were least likely to have used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

What is the average age at which Australians start to use meth/amphetamine?

Among Australians (aged 14 years and older) who have ever used meth/amphetamine, the average age at which they first tried it was 22 years.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

What is the main form of meth/amphetamine used by Australians?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, over half (57%) reported that crystal methamphetamine (ice) was the main form that they used. Powder was the main form used by 20% of methamphetamine users.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

Has the main form of meth/amphetamine used by Australians changed over time?

In 2007, most (51%) Australians who had used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months reported that powder was the main form that they used. By contrast, in 2016 the majority (57%) reported mainly using crystal methamphetamine (ice).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding. Data is not available for capsules in 2007 and 2010.

Do men and women in Australia use different forms of meth/amphetamine?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, the most commonly used form for both men and women was crystal methamphetamine (ice), followed by speed. Men were more likely than women to use ice, while women were more likely than men to use speed.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA Secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Please note: For the purposes of this FAQ, ‘ice’ refers to the crystalline form of meth/amphetamine commonly known as ice. ‘Speed’ includes powder, tablet, and capsule forms of meth/amphetamine; ‘base’ includes base, paste, and pure; and ‘other’ includes liquid, prescription amphetamines (for non-medical purposes), and other forms of meth/amphetamine.

Do younger and older Australians use different forms of meth/amphetamine?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, those aged 18 years and above typically used crystal methamphetamine (ice) as their main form. Ice use was less prevalent among those aged 14-17 years.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding. For the purposes of this FAQ, ‘ice’ refers to the crystalline form of meth/amphetamine commonly known as ice. ‘Speed’ includes powder, tablet, and capsule forms of meth/amphetamine; ‘base’ includes base, paste, and pure; and ‘other’ includes liquid, prescription amphetamines (for non-medical purposes), and other forms of meth/amphetamine.

How do Australians use meth/amphetamine?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, the largest proportion (42%) reported that smoking was their main method of use, followed by swallowing (29%). One in eight (12%) injected meth/amphetamine.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

Do men and women in Australia use meth/amphetamine differently?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, the largest proportion of both men (41%) and women (43%) reported that smoking was their main method of use.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

Do younger and older Australians use meth/amphetamine differently?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, swallowing was the main method of use for those aged 14-17 years. Those aged 18 – 39 years tended to smoke meth/amphetamine as their main method of use. Those aged 40+ years typically swallowed or smoked it, with a slightly higher number (32%) reporting swallowing as their main method of use.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

Does meth/amphetamine use in Australia vary by geographic location?

Australians living in outer regional/remote/very remote locations are more likely to have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime and in the past 12 months, compared to Australians living in major cities or inner regional locations.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Does meth/amphetamine use in Australia vary by geographic location and gender?

Australian men, regardless of where they live, are more likely than women to have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime. In particular, men living in outer regional/remote/very remote locations are most likely to have used methamphetamine.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

Does meth/amphetamine use in Australia vary by geographic location and age?

In major cities, Australians aged 30-39 years are most likely to have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime. In inner regional areas, those aged 25-29 years are most likely to have used methamphetamine, followed by those aged 30-39 years. In outer regional/remote/very remote areas, those aged 30-39 years are most likely to have used methamphetamine, followed by those aged 18-24 years.   

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Does meth/amphetamine use in Australia vary by jurisdiction?

Australians living in the Northern Territory are most likely to have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime. Australians living in Western Australia are most likely to have used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months. Australians living in New South Wales are the least likely to have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime and in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Where do Australians obtain meth/amphetamine?

The majority (55%) of Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months usually obtained it from a friend, while around a third (33%) usually obtained it from a dealer.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

How often do Australians use meth/amphetamine?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, just under half (45%) used it once or twice per year. One in five reported using meth/amphetamine once per week or more.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

Do men or women in Australia use meth/amphetamine more often?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, women were more likely than men to use once a month, every few months, and once or twice per year. Men were more likely than women to use once a week or more.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Do younger or older Australians use meth/amphetamine more often?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, older age groups are more likely to use frequently (i.e., once per week or more) than younger age groups, with the highest rates of frequent use found among those aged 40+ years. Infrequent use (i.e., using once or twice per year) is most common among those aged 14-17 years.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

How much meth/amphetamine do Australians usually use?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, the largest proportion (43%) typically used 0.1 grams or less per occasion of use.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

Do men or women in Australia use more meth/amphetamine?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, the largest proportion of both men and women used an average of 0.1 grams or less per occasion of use.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Do younger or older Australians use more meth/amphetamine?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, those aged 14-17 years were the most likely to use small amounts (0.10g or less).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2018).

† Meth/amphetamine: This term covers a range of stimulant drugs including methamphetamine and amphetamine. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) described meth/amphetamine as including drugs commonly known as speed, ice, crystal, whizz, Ritalin, or pseudoephedrine-based cold and flu tablets.

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.