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Cocaine Nation: Australia’s Alarming Drug Crisis

By May 24, 2023No Comments

This week the ABC published an article, “Cocaine Nation: The Volatile Lives Behind Australia’s Booming Cocaine Trade”, that sheds a stark light on Australia’s drug problem. The revelations within are deeply concerning, highlighting the scale and impact of cocaine use in Australia. As an organisation dedicated to supporting young people affected by drug and alcohol addiction, Sir David Martin Foundation recognises the impact of these revelations.

The article uncovers shocking statistics that paint a troubling picture of Australia’s cocaine consumption. With Australians ranking as the highest per capita users of cocaine worldwide, it is evident that we are facing an unprecedented crisis. The data from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, indicating that Australians spend over $10 billion annually on illegal drugs, including cocaine, is alarming.

What is particularly disheartening is the realisation that cocaine abuse permeates all levels of society. The article reveals that the drug has infiltrated the lives of professionals, celebrities, and even those entrusted with upholding the law. The ease with which cocaine flows from high-level operators to street dealers demonstrates the depth and complexity of the issue.

Australians are the highest per capita users of cocaine in the world – 4.2 per cent of Australians aged 14 and over used cocaine in 2019.

Behind the staggering statistics lies a human cost that cannot be ignored. The personal accounts shared in the article paint a harrowing picture of addiction’s destructive force. Lives shattered, relationships broken, and communities affected—these are the real consequences of Australia’s cocaine epidemic. The trauma and violence experienced by those involved in the drug trade further emphasize the urgent need for comprehensive solutions.

Sir David Martin Foundation has raised over $70M since 1990 to enable evidence-based, best-practice models of treatment for youth drug and alcohol addiction that provide an age specific and holistic approach to recovery.

The Foundation stands firm in our commitment to supporting those impacted by addiction, raising awareness of youth drug and alcohol addiction as a health and social condition. We recognise the importance of increased education and awareness around this issue in order to see real change for our young people.

Every $1 invested in alcohol and drug treatment results in a $7 benefit to the Australian community by improving health outcomes, reducing criminal behaviour and increasing psychological wellbeing and participation in the community. The improvements directly translate into savings achieved through a reduction of health care costs, less demand on the criminal justice system and gains in productivity.

Additionally, by raising awareness about the devastating consequences of drug misuse, especially among young people, we can empower individuals to make informed decisions and steer clear of the destructive path of addiction. Investing in holistic treatment programs and is essential to curbing the demand for cocaine in our communities.

The World Health Organisation ranks substance addiction as the world’s most stigmatised health conditions. Around 1/3 of Australians with problematic alcohol & drug use never seek help, with 37.5% of this group under the age of 30.

Stigma, judgement and misinformation are major roadblocks to young people and their families seeking help for drug and alcohol addiction. Together, by starting important conversations and breaking down some of the misconceptions about addiction we can help remove these barriers and empower young people to seek help.

The revelations presented in the “Cocaine Nation” article demand our attention. Together, we can work towards a future where the lives of individuals and communities affected by cocaine and other substances can heal and flourish.


If you or anyone you know needs help:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Health Direct on 1800 022 222

National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline 1800 250 015