Illicit drug consumption in Australia – Insights from Wastewater
The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program has now been in place for six years. In the Program’s most recent report (Number 18), a longitudinal look at the data provides us with some key insights into how Australians consume illicit drugs.
Of the illicit drugs that can be measured in wastewater, methamphetamine remains by far the most commonly consumed illicit drug. (a)
Since August 2021, heroin has been in second place.
Consumption of cocaine has decreased considerably since December 2021 and now sits at a record low in both capital cities and regional areas.
Consumption of oxycodone and fentanyl has been stable over the past 2 years.
Consumption of cannabis was higher in mid-2022 than at any time since mid-2018, when monitoring of this drug commenced. (a)
Consumption of each of the four illicit drugs (Methamphetamine, Cocaine, MDMA and Heroin) has varied over time, but at a national level, record highs are more likely to be seen during the month of December and record lows are more apparent in April.
The highest number of record high consumption levels was seen in 2019. In that year, the total estimated street value of these 4 illicit drugs reached $11.3 billion.
Conversely, the highest number of record low consumption levels was seen in 2022.
Over the past 6 years of the program, per capita consumption of most drugs was generally higher in regional areas. The exceptions being cocaine and heroin, where consumption has generally been higher in capital cities.
The full report can be found here https://www.acic.gov.au/publications/national-wastewater-drug-monitoring-program-reports/report-18-national-wastewater-drug-monitoring-program
These findings highlight the ongoing and increasing use of drugs of abuse in the community, which has a flow-on effect of increasing safety risks in the workplace.
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(a) THC cannot be accurately measured in wastewater against the other drugs but can be compared to itself on a year by year basis.
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