Use

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.

The primary source of data used in this section is the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020). 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’ methamphetamine use behaviours. 

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?

Six percent of Australians have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime, 1% have used in the past 12 months, 0.5% have used in the past month, and 0.3% have used in the past week.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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 used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime and in the past 12 months decreased between 2001 and 2019.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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 2001 and 2019, the prevalence of lifetime and recent meth/amphetamine use decreased for both men and women. Australian men have consistently been more likely than women to have used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months and in their lifetime.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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 age?

Prevalence of lifetime and recent meth/amphetamine use has decreased among most age groups, with the most dramatic reduction occurring among Australians aged 20-29 years. However, use among 40-49 year olds has increased since 2001.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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.

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). 2019 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 and in the past 12 months.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2021).

† 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.

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 23 years.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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, half (50%) reported that crystal methamphetamine (ice) was the main form that they used. Speed/powder was the main form used by 20% of methamphetamine users.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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.

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 2019 the majority (50%) reported mainly using crystal methamphetamine (ice).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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.

** 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. 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). 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA Secondary analysis, 2021).

† 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.

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

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, those aged 25 years and above typically used crystal methamphetamine (ice) as their main form. Younger people were more likely to use prescription amphetamines or speed/powder. 

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2021).

† 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 (41%) reported that smoking was their main method of use, followed by swallowing (36%).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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, men were more likely to report that smoking was their main method of use whilst women more commonly swallowed it.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2021).

† 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?

Meth/amphetamine use in Australia is similar across geographic locations.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2021).

† 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.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2021).

† 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 all geographic locations, Australians aged 30-39 years are most likely to have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime. A higher proportion of 30-39 year olds used in outer regional/remote/very remote Australia (15%) than those living in major cities (11%) or inner regional locations (13%).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2021).

† 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.

Does meth/amphetamine use in Australia vary by jurisdiction?

Australians living in Western Australia are most likely to have used meth/amphetamine in their lifetime, while those living in Western Australia and the Northern Territory are most likely to have used in the past 12 months. Australians living in the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania are least likely to have used meth/amphetamine.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2021).

† 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.

Where do Australians obtain meth/amphetamine?

The majority (60%) of Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months usually obtained it from a friend, while around a quarter (27%) usually obtained it from a dealer.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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.

How often do Australians use meth/amphetamine?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, the largest proportion (47%) used it once or twice per year. One in six reported using meth/amphetamine once per week or more (17%).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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.

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

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months, women typically used less frequently (every few months, or once or twice per year), while men were more likely to use frequently (monthly or more often).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 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.

How much meth/amphetamine do Australians usually use?

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months and reported their amount of use in points or grams, the largest proportion typically used between 0.11 and 0.25 grams per occasion of use.

Among Australians who used meth/amphetamine in the past 12 months and reported their amount of use in tablets/capsules/pills, the largest proportion typically used 1 tablet/capsule/pill per occasion of use.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2021).

† 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 levels of methamphetamine in wastewater in Australia vary by geographic location?

The amount of methylamphetamine found in Australian wastewater varies substantially between Australian jurisdictions.

Capital city New South Wales and parts of regional South Australia and Victoria recorded the highest daily levels of use in 2020, while the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Western Australia had below average levels of use.

Source: Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (2021). National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program: Report 12. Canberra: ACIC.

This FAQ uses data from the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program. Methylamphetamine excretion was measured. No attempt was made to differentiate amphetamine use from the proportion of methylamphetamine excreted as amphetamine. Further information on the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is available here.

Methylamphetamine is also commonly known as methamphetamine. In this report, consistent with the preferences of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, methylamphetamine is used.