CANBERRA, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Methamphetamine or "ice" use increased by 25 percent in the Australian city of Adelaide last year, a University of Adelaide analysis of the city's sewerage water has found.
Researchers from the university used the city's waste water to determine the levels of ice present, and found there were around 450 doses of methamphetamine per week per 1,000 people throughout December 2016 - a figure 25 percent higher than 2015 and around three times the 2012 level.
Dr. Chris Holmwood from Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia said while the research showed an increase in the level of methamphetamine waste in the city's sewerage, it did not necessarily mean that more people were using the drug.
He said it was possible that a similar proportion of the population was taking more of the drug than they were five years ago.
"You have to look at waste water analysis together with other sources of data," Holmwood told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.
"If you look at survey data that looks at self-reported use of methamphetamine, it looks like no more people are using methamphetamine than were three or four years ago but the total amount of methamphetamine that's being used is greater."
"So those people who are using methamphetamine are using more of it and subsequently running into more problems associated with it."
The state's Minister for Substance Abuse Leesa Vlahos said the research was damning and called on the newly-appointed federal Health Minister Greg Hunt to help fight the "scourge of methamphetamine abuse."
"We really need to get action on the ground and this wastewater treatment monitoring helps us track patterns and behaviors, seasonal trends," Vlahos said Wednesday.
"But most importantly we can see ice is on the increase and we need to act now."