Meth use spikes amongst rural Australians

The highest rates of meth usage were found in rural men aged 18 to 25, particularly tradies (Getty)
The highest rates of meth usage were found in rural men aged 18 to 25, particularly tradies (Getty)

There are calls for drug monitoring in rural areas after a study found meth use among rural Australians is twice as high as those living in cities.

One in 43 people in rural areas are using the drug, according to researchers from the University of Western Australia - that's 150 percent more than in 2007.

In cities, use has only gone up 16 percent.

The highest rates of usage were found in rural men aged 18 to 25, particularly tradies.

"That finding was unexpected, and that suggests to us some rural communities are being targeted and there's anecdotal evidence to suggest that bikie gangs and criminal groups are specifically targeting more vulnerable communities," National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction director Ann Roche told the Daily Telegraph.

But New Zealand drug researcher Chris Wilkins says it's not a surprising discovery.

"If you look at some of those small towns, you can see they've got a lot of socioeconomic problems, so it wouldn't be surprising if they had higher levels of alcohol and drug use," he told Newshub.

"A lot of people in these communities know about the problems, and are really keen to address some of the issues."

Dr Wilkins says we need to find out how bad the problem really is in rural areas here in New Zealand, since they're often neglected when it comes to drug and alcohol abuse services.

"We have to roll out drug monitoring to those little places, smaller towns, and get an idea about where we should target our resources."

Meth use has been falling in New Zealand, dropping from an estimated 2.7 percent of adults in 2003 to 0.9 percent in 2014/15, according to the Ministry of Health.

Newshub.