20 February 2019

Drug report: ACT second biggest consumers of heroin and opioids in the nation

| Lachlan Roberts
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The sixth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program reveals startling figures relating to the ACT’s drug usage.

Canberrans are Australia’s second biggest consumers of heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone according to a new drugs report from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).

The ACIC has released the sixth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, revealing the ACTs opioid consumption is among the highest in the nation based on the wastewater findings for August 2018.

ACIC monitored 58 wastewater sites around Australia including one ACT site in August last year, revealing the ACT is one of the highest consumers of cocaine in the country alongside Queensland. Despite an overall decrease since late 2017, Queenslanders and Canberrans’ cocaine consumption levels trended upwards and are now second highest in the nation.

Since the ACIC’s last analysis performed in April 2018 which showed Canberra had the equal highest use of the powerful opioid painkiller fentanyl in the nation, the ACT’s average MDMA, alcohol, oxycodone and fentanyl consumption had all increased.

The data also showed high levels of heroin were recorded in New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT wastewater but NSW, Tasmania and the ACT had the lowest levels of methylamphetamine (ice) consumption in the country.

Ice still remained Canberra’s most popular drug, with about 22 doses per 1000 people taking it each day in August 2018, still well below the national capital city average of around 35 doses.

Using data from the program, the Commission estimated more than 9.6 tonnes of methylamphetamine, more than 4 tonnes of cocaine, 1.1 tonnes of MDMA, and more than 700 kilograms of heroin are consumed in Australia each year, with an estimated street value of $9.3 billion.

ACIC chief Michael Phelan said the astonishing amounts highlight the magnitude of the drug’s black economy and believes wastewater data increases understanding of drug consumption 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. Its inclusion in the program provides further insight into one of the largest illicit drug markets in Australia,” Mr Phelan said.

“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.”

The full report is available here.

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Do you mean we actually pay a bunch of bureaucrats to examine human excretia looking for traces of drugs? Apart from a few cheap headlines and stigmatising whole communities, what is this achieving? Perhaps these fat cats could be redeployed somewhere else where they can be of use to the community. Flood or drought relief comes to mind. What exactly is the pompously-titled Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission anyway?

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