Crystal methamphetamine's impact on frontline emergency services in Victoria, Australia Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Background

    The use of crystal methamphetamine is a growing problem in Australia. Methamphetamine users can suffer adverse physical health effects, psychotic symptoms and methamphetamine-related aggressive behaviour. The increasing use and related harms of crystal methamphetamine is presenting serious problems for frontline emergency responders.

    Methods

    A population-based retrospective analysis was undertaken of data collected by Ambulance Victoria describing crystal methamphetaminerelated events attended by ambulance across Victoria over six financial years from 2011/12 to 2016/17.

    Results

    Methamphetamine-related events attended by Victoria Ambulance paramedics significantly increased from 2011/12 to 2016/17, particularly in regional Victoria. The most frequent age group requiring ambulance attendance is 25-39 years. The proportion of events requiring police coattendance significantly increased, as did transportation to emergency department/hospital.

    Conclusion

    The substantial increases in methamphetamine-related events attended by ambulance indicate the need for increased resources and support for paramedics, particularly in regional/rural areas. The large increase among young people aged 15-24 years indicates a need for policy action on prevention, harm reduction and expanded treatment services to reduce health problems and methamphetamine-related harms.

publication date

  • 2019