Snort, Pop Or Smoke: Your Suburb Decides Your Poison

While the use and spread of illicit drug activity in Sydney is wide, the most dangerous drugs have definitive local hotbeds of dealing and usage.

Most Sydney-siders have seen the effects of illicit substances in one way or another.

The city is a major player in the national illegal drug market -- estimated to be worth $6.7 billion annually -- according to government and community organisations.

So where exactly are these substances being dealt? And why are they more popular in particular areas? 10 daily crunched police and crime data and found the following.

Cocaine appears to have found a foothold in Sydney's wealthiest suburbs. (Image AAP)

For cocaine in particular, one of the most important factors is quite simply the socioeconomic status of the area.

That's according to Don Weatherburn, the executive director of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOSCAR).

"In New South Wales most of the cocaine is being consumed as far was we can tell by people in wealthier areas because the price of cocaine is much higher than the price of methamphetamine," he told 10 daily.

Cannabis is coming in mainly from outside of the city according to the Bureau of Crime Statistics (Image AAP)

The Woollahra council area, for example -- the home of some of Australia's wealthiest people -- is seeing incidents for cocaine dealing at more than 12 times the state average.

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Amphetamines are becoming more common around South Sydney. (Image AAP)

Ecstasy appears to have found a foothold on the other side of the Harbour Bridge.

North Sydney has almost three times the national average for dealing of the party drug, far exceeding other areas of the city.

One of the main causes behind the movement of these drugs around the different suburbs is dealers migrating towards their successful competitors, said Weatherburn.

"Once a big dealer establishes themselves in one location, other dealers want to go there too and undercut. It's classic competition, except it's illegal rather than legal drugs that are being sold."

Ecstasy dealing has gained a foot hold in North Sydney (Image AAP)

The location of these large scale dealers can be tracked though the habits of drug takers in the area.

"The first sign of trouble is a growth of overdoses or hospital admissions, and then the next thing you see is a growth in arrests" said Weatherburn.

Sydney's highest rates of recorded drug dealing incidents per local area: (Outside of the CBD)

  • Cocaine: Woolhara,  130.4 per 100,000 (people), state average, 10.2 per 100,000
  • Amphetamines: Liverpool, 23.1 per 100,000, state average, 23.6 per 100,000
  • Narcotics: Fairfield, 5.3 per 100,000, state average, 3.1 per 100,000
  • Ecstasy: North Sydney, 23.6 per 100,000, state average 8.8 per 100,000
The movement of drug dealers can be tracked by a number of factors including hospital admission (Image AAP)

The latest data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, released this week, shows that in the last quarter recorded incidents for drug offences has been largely stable.

There have been some exceptions. Possession and or use of cocaine has risen by almost 34%. There's also an increase in "other drug  offences." While dealing and trafficking narcotics has dropped.

There were 2,177 drug-related deaths in Australia in 2016, according to the Pennington Institute's Annual Overdose Report.

This is the highest number of drug deaths in 20 years. It's similar to the number recorded in the late 1990s when an increase in heroin use led to deaths peaking at 1,740.

The 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found around 3.1 million Australians had used an illicit drug, with cannabis the most common followed by pharmaceuticals, cocaine and then ecstasy.

Opioids such as codeine, heroin, oxycodone and fentanyl have claimed the most lives since 2001.

The survey also found crystal meth caused the most concern to communities and its frequent use by addicts increased its risks and harms.

For information, advice and crisis counseling call the Alcohol Drug Information Service on 1800 422 599.

Featured image: AAP

Contact the author mgay@networkten.com.au