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March 23, 2018


An article has been published on The Conversation website titled "Cocaine: The glamour drug of the 70's is making a comeback".  The article describes the history of cocaine, the ways that it works and presents some data around rates of use in the Australian population. The 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found the proportion of people using cocaine has been increasing since 2004. Cocaine was reported to be the second most commonly used illicit substance in Australia, after cannabis at the highest rate seen over the last 15 years. Between 2001 and 2016, lifetime cocaine use increased across all age groups except for 14-19 year olds, with significant increases between 2013 and 2016 for people in their 30s and 40s. Whilst the Household survey demonstrated that recent use of cocaine has increased across most age groups it is unclear if rates are increasing amongst Australian young people.


Go to "Weekly Dose: Cocaine, the glamour drug of the 70's, is making a comeback"

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August 31, 2017


Vice Media have developed a series of harm reduction videos, including substances such as MDMA, cocaine., cannabis, nitrous oxide and more.  The videos use a scientist from The Loop, a drug testing service from the UK, to answer some key questions that users often have, with practical suggestions to reduce the harms. Obviously, the only way to reduce all of the harms is to not use. However for those who do use, there are some strategies that can be implemented to reduce the harms. Some of the tips in the videos include: not to use MDMA more than once every three months, to reduce the risks of developing tolerance and increasing some of the potential cognitive effects of MDMA.

Go to Vice Media's "Safe Sesh" videos.

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May 19, 2017


The Drug Policy Alliance has produced a series of four short videos about MDMA, Methamphetamine, Heroin and Cocaine which aim to present straightforward, factual information. Each video is only two minutes long and covers the history of each of these drugs, how they work, the major health risks of each substance and practice harm reduction advice.

Read more and watch the videos here.


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March 10, 2017


The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (formerly known as the Australian Drug Foundation) have re-launched their Drug Facts website.  The site contains information on a broad range of drugs, in an accessible format suitable for any worker.  Each fact sheet contains information on the specific substance including how the substance is used, an overview of the effects and harms, and information on rates of use in the population.

Go to the ADF Drug Facts website

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June 24, 2016


Illicit drugs have far reaching impacts around the world.  In countries where illicit drugs like cocaine are produced, the trade has signficant impacts on local people.  Late last year, the BBC broadcast a radio documentary called "Drug Mules of the Andes".  In this story, the reporter follows the "mochileros" - mostly young men who hike through the jungle in convoys of up to 150 people, carrying the cocaine to clandestine airstrips where it is then smuggled out to countries like Australia.  For their effort, the young men are paid significant sums of money, yet there are great risks including imprisonment, robbery and death.  This fascinating radio documentary provides an important insight into the far reaching effects of the trade in illicit drugs globally.

Listen to "The drug mules of the Andes" (23 minutes)

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October 31, 2014


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 that whilst heroin continues to be the most commonly injected drug of choice, the use of ice / crystal form of methamphetamine has increased significantly with purity reported as being "high".  Similarly whilst the most popular form of ecstasy consumed is in tablet form, there has been an increasing trend in the use of MDMA crystal which is considered a much more potent form of ecstasy.

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October 24, 2014


Climate Schools is a school-based health education course developed by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales. The program has been evaluated and shown to reduce alcohol consumption, binge drinking, frequency of cannabis use while increasing knowledge about alcohol and cannabis and improving attitudes towards alcohol.  Recently, NDARC has launched a new module targeting psychostimulants and cannabis for young people in year 10.  The resources are free of charge, however you will need to register in order to access the materials.

Go to the Climate Schools Website.

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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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June 15, 2012


The British Lung Foundation has just published an updated report titled "The Impact of Cannabis on Your Lungs" which collates recent research on cannabis use and lung function and digests this into an easy to read format.  The report finds that recently published research indicates stronger evidence than ever before that cannabis is linked to lung cancer.  It also indicates a clear link between cannabis and respiratory problems like chronic coughing, sputum production and wheezing, as well as a link between cannabis use and infective lung conditions like tuberculosis and legionnaires disease.  They found that there was a lack of evidence on how cannabis smoking affects lung function and the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Download the "Impact of Cannabis on Lungs" from the British Lung Foundation website.

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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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