Wastewater results show regional cocaine use in Queensland among the highest in Australia

AUSTRALIANS spent more than $9 billion on illicit drugs last year, a new report by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission has found following an examination of sewer water.

The Commission’s report into the sixth National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program revealed Australians consumed more than 9.6 tonnes of meth, 4 tonnes of cocaine, 1.1 tonnes of MDMA and more than 700kg of heroin.

In Queensland, the report found the average methylamphetamine consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites between April and August 2018.


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There were twelve sites monitored in the Sunshine State in August 2018—three capital city sites and nine regional sites.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan APM said wastewater data increased our understanding of drug consumption in Australia including drug use patterns across states, territories and the nation.

“Cannabis consumption has been included for the first time, showing regional average cannabis consumption exceeded capital city average consumption in August 2018,” Mr Phelan said.

“Its inclusion in the program provides further insight into one of the largest illicit drug markets in Australia.

“On a national level, of the drugs measured by the program with available dose data, alcohol and nicotine remain the highest-consumed substances.

“As the program continues to build long-term drug consumption data, fluctuations in consumption are evident.

“Understanding local drug consumption patterns assists law enforcement, policy, regulatory and health agencies develop targeted supply, demand and harm reduction strategies.”

In August 2018, the program monitored 13 licit and illicit substances at 58 wastewater sites nationally, covering 56 per cent of Australia’s population—around 13 million people.

The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program found that, compared to April 2018, of the substances tested in August 2018 in Queensland:

  • average nicotine consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites;
  • average alcohol consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites;
  • average methylamphetamine consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites;
  • average cocaine consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites;
  • average MDMA consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites;
  • average MDA consumption decreased in both capital city and regional sites;
  • average oxycodone consumption decreased in capital city sites and increased in regional sites;
  • average fentanyl consumption decreased in both capital city and regional sites; and,
  • average heroin consumption increased in both capital city and regional sites

As the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program concludes its second year, long-term data is now available to provide greater insight into drug consumption in Australia.

Since the first report was released, the weight of meth and cocaine consumed annually has increased, while the weight of MDMA and heroin has fallen.

To view the full report in its entirety, click here.

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