ABOUT 270,000 Australians use methamphetamine - and half are dependent on the drug, new research has found.
Research released in the Medical Journal of Australia today has found the majority of methamphetamine users are aged between 15 and 34.
The paper from National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre researchers has estimated total Australian users in each year from 2002-03 through to 2013-14 and by age group.
The paper comes after a Federal Government taskforce found organised crime gangs were spreading into regional areas to make, transport and sell the drug.
Lead researcher Louisa Degenhardt said that in the 201314 year about 160,000 Australians aged between 15 and 54 were dependent on the drug - and an extra 100,000 were users.
"This equates to population rates of 2.09% for regular and 1.24% for dependent use," the paper said.
"The rate of dependent use had increased since 2009-10 (when the rate was estimated to be 0.74%), and was higher than the previous peak (1.22% in 2006-07)."
The paper found the highest rates of use were among those aged 25 to 34.
"The highest rates of use were consistently among those aged 25-34 years.
"In 2012-13, the estimated rate of methamphetamine dependence in this age group was 1.50%.
"It is also important to note the recent increase in estimated dependent use among those aged 15-24 years. In 2012-13, the rate was estimated to be 1.14%."
The authors concluded the growing number of users showed there was a "need to expand services to redress the health problems" that went along with regular meth use.
The Federal Government announced a $241-million response to curb the drug spreading following the taskforce report released in December 2015.
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