Canberra's leading drug body has called on the ACT Government to develop a more nuanced response to reports of increasing ice usage and associated harms.
In a submission to the ACT Government's 2015-16 budget consultation, the ACT Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association (ATODA) reported a "rapid and profound shift from powder amphetamines to the more harmful crystalline methamphetamine".
"Like other jurisdictions, this appears to include an increase in admissions for smoking crystalline methamphetamine in the ACT," read the submission.
ATODA chief executive of Carrie Fowlie said the use of crystal methamphetamine was historically low in the ACT and shifting trends meant services and systems may not be sufficiently equipped to respond to clients.
Ms Fowlie said the number of drug treatment admissions with amphetamine sighted as the primary drug of choice more than doubled between 2010 and 2013, a trend reported across the nation.
"People who use crystal methamphetamines may have limited knowledge of drug treatment services as they are not otherwise engaged with the health system," she said.
"Currently it is estimated that only one-third of dependent methamphetamine users have ever received treatment for their methamphetamine use."
Ms Fowlie said methamphetamine users experience different harms from other users and there were no specialist treatments currently available in the ACT.
In their submission, ATODA called for the government to lead "an initial policy process to occur with researchers, drug treatment services, policy makers and consumers"
The association hopes the process will develop an "evidence-informed approach that equips the community, services and systems to prevent or respond to the harms that result from crystalline methamphetamine use".
According to the submission, the number of hospital admissions for methamphetamine have more than doubled across the country with Victoria reporting up to a five-fold increase in ambulance call-outs from crystal methamphetamine use.
Nationally, the number of treatment episodes for amphetamines doubled between 2009 and 2013 due to a dramatic increase in the number of people smoking ice from 2010 onwards.
"This trend has occurred alongside ongoing treatment admissions for, showing smoking is not displacing injecting methamphetamine use in Australia, but rather adding to treatment demand," read the submission.