Lishman Health Foundation study highlights high meth use rate among South West

Over a 15 day period, one in five men aged 18 to 24 surveyed at Bunbury Regional Hospital's emergency department, self reported as meth users.

Over a 15 day period, one in five men aged 18 to 24 surveyed at Bunbury Regional Hospital's emergency department, self reported as meth users.

A recent medical study conducted at Bunbury Regional Hospital has highlighted the concerning amount of young people experimenting with methamphetamine in the South West. 

During a 15-day period, researchers commissioned by the Lishman Health Foundation invited attendees at the hospital’s emergency department to fill in an anonymous survey asking about methamphetamine and alcohol use. 

More than 40 per cent of those who visited responded and of those 1.7 per cent identified as meth-affected while 4.8 per cent identified as users of the drug. In the same group, 9.1 per cent were alcohol affected. 

Worryingly, 20 per cent of the male attendees aged 18 to 24 who responded, self reported as methamphetamine users.

Lishman Health Foundation research chairman Dr Peter Heyworth told the Mail the study found methamphetamine use was far more likely to result in an attendance to the emergency department than alcohol was.

“Methamphetamine is a volatile substance that has a disruptive effect on the community,” he said. 

“In recent years the amount of people using methamphetamine has escalated and the scariest thing about the study is the reasonable assumption that the number of people self reporting as users may be under representing.” 

The full Bunbury Methamphetamine and Alcohol Project Findings are set to be published in a medical journal soon. 

Last month, waste water analysis showed the amount of methamphetamine being consumed locally had fallen, with tests in previous years highlighting Bunbury as having the highest rate of meth consumption of locations tested in WA.

Bunbury MLA Don Punch was recently announced as a member of the state government’s new methamphetamine taskforce and told the Mail he congratulated the Lishman Health Foundation on their important work. 

“The impacts of meth are unique to each community and in regional areas that may be because of differing access to services or because the ripples of those impacts can be greater in smaller communities,” he said. 

“Research such as that being done by the Lishman Health Foundation is important to help identify the circumstances of individual communities and enable relevant local solutions to be crafted.

“I am incredibly proud of the work being done in Bunbury to address the meth epidemic and believe this whole of community approach will prove to be one of the most effective frameworks to be applied in regional areas.”

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