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Examining illicit drug consumption throughout Australia


Morgan Liotta


18/06/2019 3:06:18 PM

A state-by-state breakdown of the recent National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report.

Cannabis, ice, MDMA and heroin
Cannabis, ice, MDMA and heroin were among Australia’s most consumed illicit drugs.

There is much to be gleaned from examining Australia’s waste.
 
For example, a closer look at the country’s wastewater has revealed that:

  • use of methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine (MDMA) and methylamphetamine (ice) is on the rise in capital cities and regional areas
  • consumption of MDMA and heroin in capital cities has increased to their highest levels in the last seven years
  • the average consumption of cocaine and heroin is greater in cities than regional areas
  • the average consumption of MDMA, methylamphetamine, methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), oxycodone, fentanyl and cannabis is greater in regional areas than in cities.
The seventh National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report, released this week by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), uses wastewater data (in combination with other data) to gather an understanding of national, state and territory drug markets.
 
The seventh report covers 54% of the population (about 12.6 million people), and took data from 50 wastewater treatment plants across Australia in December 2018. It monitored the consumption of 13 substances.
 
Overall, nicotine and alcohol remain the most consumed drugs measured by the program, while methylamphetamine is still the most consumed illicit drug of those tested.
 
The report includes a breakdown of drug consumption per state.
 
New South Wales
NSW has the second highest average capital city consumption of heroin and highest average regional consumption of heroin.
 
Regional NSW also has the:
 
  • highest average consumption of MDA
  • second highest average consumption of methylamphetamine
  • second highest average consumption of fentanyl and alcohol.
Although cocaine consumption was highest in NSW, average consumption decreased in capital city sites but increased in regional sites. Nicotine consumption increased in capital city sites but remained relatively stable across regional sites.
 
Victoria
Victoria has the highest average capital city consumption of heroin and second highest average regional consumption. The state also ranks second highest in average capital city consumption of cocaine.
 
Oxycodone and MDMA rank highest regional consumption in Victoria – with oxycodone and fentanyl consumption increasing in regional sites, but decreasing in capital city sites. MDMA and MDA use also increased in capital city and regional sites across the state.
 
Average nicotine consumption decreased across Melbourne and regional sites, while alcohol decreased in regional sites and increased in the capital.
 
South Australia
SA is home to the highest average capital city consumption of methylamphetamine, with increased rates from previous wastewater tests. Cannabis consumption also increased in the state’s capital city sites, as well as in regional sites.
 
Regional SA recorded:
 
  • a decrease in methylamphetamine consumption
  • an increase in fentanyl consumption
  • the highest average regional consumption of cannabis
  • the highest average regional consumption of fentanyl (together with Queensland).
Average alcohol consumption decreased in capital city and regional sites, while nicotine increased for the capital and decreased regionally.
 
Queensland
Regional Queensland has the second highest average consumption of cocaine, MDMA, MDA and oxycodone, with regional and capital city sites showing:
 
  • a decrease in cocaine consumption
  • an increase in MDMA consumption
  • an increase in MDA consumption 
  • an increase in oxycodone consumption
  • a decrease in alcohol consumption.
Nicotine use decreased in Queensland’s capital city sites, but increased regionally.
 
Western Australia
WA recorded the highest average regional consumption and second highest average capital city consumption of methylamphetamine, with the second highest average capital city consumption of MDA and cannabis.
 
Across capital cities and regional sites, WA consumption rates show:
 
  • an increase in MDMA 
  • an increase in cannabis
  • a decrease in heroin
  • a decrease in oxycodone
  • a decrease in alcohol.
Nicotine consumption decreased in regional sites, but increased in the capital.
 
Tasmania
Tasmania recorded the second highest average capital city and regional consumption of nicotine, with increases across the entire state. Although alcohol consumption decreased both capital cities and regionally, Tasmania still has the second highest average capital city consumption of alcohol. Cannabis recorded the second highest average regional consumption in Tasmania.
 
Across capital cities and regional sites, Tasmania consumption rates also show:
 
  • an increase in methylamphetamine
  • a decrease in MDA
  • a decrease in heroin
  • a decrease in cannabis.
Average cocaine consumption remained stable in capital city sites, with a decrease in regional sites.
 
Northern Territory
Although average consumption of nicotine and alcohol decreased across capital city and regional sites, the NT still has the highest average consumption of both drugs overall. The NT also has the highest capital city consumption of MDA and second highest of MDMA.
 
Capital city and regional sites in the NT show a decrease in consumption of cocaine, fentanyl and cannabis; however, average methylamphetamine consumption increased in capital city sites and decreased regionally.
 
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT has the second highest average capital city consumption for fentanyl and oxycodone.
 
Average consumption across the ACT decreased for:
 
  • alcohol
  • cocaine
  • MDA
  • fentanyl
  • cannabis.
Average consumption across the ACT increased for:
 
  • nicotine
  • methylamphetamine
  • MDMA
  • oxycodone
  • heroin.
More detailed information is available on the ACIC website.



drug misuse illicit drugs wastewater



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