Ice use 'skyrockets' by 1000 per cent
THE above average increase in amphetamine possession in Coffs Harbour has been described as "remarkable".
Coffs Harbour recorded a spike in possession by almost 1000 per cent - from about 15 incidents in 2009 to 163 in 2018.
Acting executive director at the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research Jackie Fitzgerald described some "spectacular increases" in a number of regional NSW locations including Coffs Harbour.
The shocking statistics come from a special commission of inquiry into the drug ice commissioned by Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
It found that amphetamine possession in NSW has risen by 250 per cent over the past decade with 1500 users dying from the drug during the same period.
The inquiry was set up last November to examine the use of methamphetamines and other stimulants such as MDMA and what further measures can be taken to address addiction.
The inquiry, led by commissioner Dan Howard, heard from police, public health, drug and social justice experts on Tuesday in its examination of the nature, prevalence and impact of the drug use.
The hearing in Sydney was presented crime figures showing the rate per 100,000 people of amphetamine possession incidents recorded by police across the state.
Sydney's CBD and inner-southern suburbs had the highest rate of possession with nearly 250 incidents per 100,000 people last year, but that rate had barely changed in 10 years.
In contrast, Coffs Harbour and Grafton had an above average rate of about 120 incidents per 100,000 people but the rate had risen by 1000 per cent in the past decade.
Hospitalisation rates from amphetamine stimulants and methamphetamine use were higher for men than for women, and seven times higher for Indigenous people compared to non-Indigenous people.
The average profile of the 1500 people who had died from methamphetamine use over the past decade was a 37-year-old male.
About half of those who died had a history of injecting drug use, and eight per cent were receiving some type of treatment for their addiction. Between 2009 and 2015 the death rate had doubled. The majority of deaths were linked to toxicity.
The inquiry will hear evidence this week in Sydney before travelling to Lismore and Nowra later this month, Dubbo and East Maitland in June, and Broken Hill in July.
It will also examine a coronial inquest into seven suspected drug-induced deaths at music festivals in NSW, which is scheduled to be held in July.
The special commission of inquiry is due to deliver its findings by October 28.