A closer look at Drug Addictions and Suicide in Perth

  •  Methamphetamines numbers have tripled in the past five years, from about 90,000 to 268,000 regular and dependent methamphetamine users
  • The result of the study was based on the number of people seeking treatment
  • The number of users between the age of 15 and 24 has more than doubled  from 21,000 regular users to 59,000 regular users
  • Accidental deaths involving Meth have increased sharply  since 2010, from 88 deaths in 1020 to 101
  • Accidental drug deaths involving methamphetamine have increased significantly since 2010 jumping from 88 deaths in 2010 to 101 in 2011 and early estimates indicate that deaths involving the drug were as high as 170 in 2013
  • 62 per cent of injecting drug users reported using ice in the past six months
  • Around 20 per cent of recreational psychostimulant users reported taking Ice in the last six months with the group much more likely to use speed powder
  • The biggest increase in ice use was reported in Victoria and the ACT, with use in those states now equal to the level of ice use in NSW
  • The frequency of ice use among the national sample of people who inject drugs increased from fortnightly to close to weekly
  • In the ACT those who use ice report taking it twice a week; in NSW more than once a week, and in Victoria fortnightly
  • New data from the Australia Bureau of statistics indicates that Australia recorded the highest rate of drug-induced deaths. About two-thirds of the deaths were due to prescription medication.
  • “In 2012, just over one in five (22%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over said that they had used an illicit substance in the previous year, and a further 23% at some other time in their life. Males were significantly more likely than females to have used an illicit substance in the previous year (27% compared with 18%), and before then (25% compared with 21%).”

Reasons why people use illicit drugs

Firstly, people and especially young people are depressed, according to mind frame 1 in 5 Australian will experience a mental health issue. The likelihood of an individual having a   mental health issue. decreases with age. The age group most affected is between 18 and 24. It is also estimated that 14% of Australian will go through an anxiety disorder in any 12 months. The relationship between depression and substance abuse is high, for obvious reasons, people who are depressed use drugs to feel better or to numb their pain.

Alcohol and drug abusers often use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. But drugs and alcohol can also have side effects that make the anxiety and depression worse. Hence people are stuck in a circular hamster wheel. They end up in a situation where the drugs and/or alcohol they have used to reduce their mental health symptom, have in fact made them worse. So they take more drugs and if not treated they are vulnerable to overdose and even die.

According to program manager of the Tenacious house, Spencer Nicholls, what he has noticed in his over 20 years of dealing with addiction in general, is that pain is the most prevalent factor that contributes to drug use or addiction. This is not limited to illicit drugs, this can also prescription drugs. In fact, he has never come across a drug addict or recovering addict that did not use drugs to medicate some kind of pain, be it physical or emotional pain.

For example, there are people that medicate the emotional pain as a result of either losing a child or a Job. Other people medicate because of anxiety or stress from work. And some medicate themselves to deal with the pain of depression/anxiety of mental health issues. Spencer himself used to be a heroin and crack cocaine addict and has now been clean for over 18 years, his story is nothing but remarkable.


There are a number of recovery centres in Perth, but a gap in the market was identified among male only treatment programs. It was in response to this need that Tenacious house was set up as an evidence-based, community-focused residential program for men wanting to overcome life-controlling issues associated with mental health and addiction. Tenacious House has been opened for just 3  years now, They have been so busy that they are planning to expand the centre to deal with the growing demand.

Other services include

For more information on the services offered in Perth click here 

Finally, if you are feeling down, and want to talk to someone, there are resources out there, you can call the drug and support hotline (08) 9442 5000.

For men needing help with addictions, you can call Tenacious house on 0412 456 335, and if you want to know more about the program click here

Suicide hotline 13 11 14


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