Tasmania has the highest capital city consumption of alcohol and cannabis, a new report has found, while the use of pharmaceutical opioids continue to rise.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission released its 10th National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report on Tuesday.
Monitoring the consumption of 13 substances, 53 wastewater treatment plants across Australia participated in collections - including five in Tasmania - with sampling taken in October and December 2019 and February 2020.
The report found Tasmania had the highest capital city consumption of alcohol, with the regional use the second highest in the country.
Hobart also had the highest city use of oxycodone and cannabis, and the second highest use of fentanyl, nicotine, and MDMA, compared to other capital cities.
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"The use of oxycodone initially trended upwards in many parts of the country, with Tasmania and regional Victoria amongst the highest consumers," the report read.
While useful, University of Tasmania Associate Professor Raimondo Bruno, of the School of Psychological Sciences, warned of the report's limitations.
"It needs to be noted that this sort of study can tell us about how much of a substance is consumed in a particular region.
"It can't tell us how many people are consuming alcohol or other substances," he said.
"In Tasmania, there are well over 50 treatment services, with 10 or so in the South of the state alone. So, these reports are only providing a small and sometimes skewed picture of the level of consumption in the state as a whole."
Associate Professor Bruno, who leads the Drug Research UTAS Group, said the report also didn't acknowledge the disruption of COVID-19, the demographics involved or the reason for consumption.
"It is very important to be very clear that wastewater data cannot tell you if pharmaceuticals like oxycodone and fentanyl are being used for legitimate pain reasons or illicitly," he said.
"Comparing states without taking into account Tasmania's relatively older population makes for a very misleading picture about the level of use of these medications in Tasmania.
"It is mainly a reminder that Tasmania has a clear need for improved access to specialised pain management services."
ACIC chief executive officer Michael Phelan said the program provided valuable insight into the trends and emerging issues of drug consumption across Australia.
"Australians continue to consume illicit drugs at increasing levels and the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is providing an important and consistent measure to guide and monitor drug responses," Mr Phelan said.