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June 29, 2012


The Australian Institute of Criminology have published a report titled "Measuring drug use patterns in Queensland through wastewater analysis".   This paper provides an analysis of drugs and their metabolites in sewerage, in order to estimate population prevalence of drug use.   In this report, a regional Queensland town with a population of 150 000 people is examined.   This research is in its early days and there remains some problems with the estimates (especially where assumptions are made regarding standard doses of illicit drugs).  Still, this remains an interesting and potentially useful way of measuring rates of drug use in a population.

"Measuring drug use patterns in Queensland through wastewater analysis" (730KB PDF)

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May 25, 2012


There has been a great deal of media in recent weeks focusing on the legal status of currently illegal drugs.  The Drug Policy Monitoring Project at the University of New South Wales, have sought to clarify some elements of the debate, by producing a bulletin which summarises existing evidence on the Australian public's views on the legal status of currently illegal drugs.   Using data drawn from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, it appears that the Australian public have a nuanced view, which distinguishes between "legalisation" and "decriminalisation."  Over half the sample in the most recent survey agreed with the decriminalisation of personal use of cannabis, heroin and methamphetamine, while less than one quarter support the legalisation of cannabis, heroin, ecstasy and methamphetamine.

What does the research evidence tell us about what Australians think about the legal status of drugs? (65KB PDF)

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April 26, 2012


Numerous reports have been published indicating high rates of alcohol use disorders amongst young people, but questions remain about the way this is measured. Some argue that we are vastly over-estimating alcohol use disorders amongst young people, by inappropriately measuring "tolerance". In the most recent edition of "Centrelines", the newsletter of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), Dr Louise Mewton discusses the topic, and concludes that in fact there is a high likelihood we have overestimated rates of alcohol use disorders in young people.

Download the latest edition of "Centrelines" here.

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February 3, 2012


The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare have released their annual report "Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Queensland 2009-10:  Findings from the National Minimum Data Set (NMDS)".   The report includes data on from 118 government funded alcohol and drug treatment agencies, representing 23 090 treatment episodes.    Cannabis was nominated as the principle drug of concern in 61% of treatment episodes for young people aged 10-19, and 43% of episodes for people aged 20-29.

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Queensland 2009-10:  Findings from the National Minimum Data Set (NMDS)

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December 16, 2011


The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have published their biennial report on welfare services in Australia.   The report includes detailed information on a range of indicators including the aging population, the types of family structures, the distribution of disability, engagement in schooling and education, unemployment, homelessness and vulnerability.   The report provides a snapshot of the demand for welfare services and can assist services looking to plan for the future.  The report includes comparisons to other developed countries, so we better understand how we rank when compared with other similar countries.


Australia's Welfare 2011

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November 18, 2011

Drugs in Australia 2010: Tobacco, alcohol and other drugs

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) have published their annual summary of Australians' consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.   The report draws on a range of different national reports and includes data on the use of treatment services, drug-related health issues, and issues related to law enforcement.  The report contains a range of interesting information including the finding that 8% of people aged 16-85 have had a drug use disorder of some kind in their lifetime (including harmful use / abuse and / or dependence).

Read more at the AIHW Website

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October 21, 2011


Every year, the National Drug and Alcohol Research and Education Centre (NDARC) conduct two studies of regular drug users.   The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) and the Ecstasy and Related Drugs Study (EDRS) interview people in all states of Australia, and looks at trends in price, purity and availability of various drugs.   The results from the most recent study indicates increasing use of LSD and cocaine amongst regular ecstasy users, while use of ecstasy (MDMA) continues to decline due to low purity levels.   Amongst the injecting drug users, heroin remained the most commonly reported drug of choice but there were increases in the number of people indicating methamphetamine as their drug of choice.
IDRS 2011 Bulletin

EDRS 2011 Bulletin

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July 27, 2011


The 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey was conducted between late-April and early-September 2010. This was the 10th survey in a series which began in 1985, and was the fifth to be managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). More than 26,000 people aged 12 years or older participated in the survey, in which they were asked about their knowledge of and attitudes towards drugs, their drug consumption histories, and related behaviours.

The Survey report shows positive and significant reductions since 2007 in daily tobacco smoking; mixed findings on alcohol consumption and risk; and a small overall rise in illicit drug use. In terms of attitudes to drugs, excessive alcohol use and tobacco smoking were nominated as the two most serious concerns to the community - and there were higher levels of support than previously for tobacco and alcohol harm reduction policies.

For more information or to review the report, visit the AIHW website here: AIHW National Drug Stategy Household Survey 2010 Report

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July 15, 2011


Every year the United Nations compiles a report looking at global trends in illicit drug use.   The report provides a regional overview, and analyses the market for each of the major illicit drugs: opiates, amphetamines, cocaine and cannabis.   The report attempts to compare prevalence rates across countries, and considers emerging trends such as the emerging synthetic cannabinoids.

World Drug Report 2011

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July 1, 2011


Illicit Drug Data Report 2009/10 has been released, and as always it's a fascinating read.  The report contains information from all Australian jurisdictions on total numbers of seizures and arrests for various types of substances, and information on trends in police detection of various drugs.   While the trends often only reflect police activity and not actual drug trends, there are some interesting results from this years report including: record seizures of steroids by Australian Customs, increasing numbers of clandestine labs detected, and doubling of cocaine arrests over the past decade.

Click here to read the full report.

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