National wastewater drug monitoring program: report 5, August 2018

Drug traffic Drug use Forensic sciences Australia

This National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report is the fifth in a series of nine public reports that will detail the findings of the program until the end of 2019. This report provides statistically valid datasets of drug use and distribution patterns across a large number of sites in capital cities and regional areas.

Wastewater analysis is widely applied internationally as a tool to measure and interpret drug use within national populations, with the current national program in Australia representing world best practice. Wastewater analysis provides a measure of one important aspect of national health—the demand for a range of licit and illicit drugs. An understanding of this behaviour allows governments to effectively direct resources to priority areas and monitor the progress of demand and supply reduction strategies.

This report includes wastewater data from all states and territories and covers both capital city and regional sites, enabling the program to provide a national picture of drug use. In April 2018, 47 wastewater sites were monitored nationally. Based on 2016 Census data, these sites cover 54.8 per cent of the Australian population—around 12.8 million people. This report contributes further data to permit the identification of changes in usage patterns and to build a comprehensive and increasingly detailed picture of national drug consumption.

In future reports the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission will test for cannabis consumption, one of the most used illicit drugs, both domestically and internationally. This exemplifies the continuing evolution of the program and we are grateful to our partners at the University of Queensland and the University of South Australia for extending the existing program in this manner.

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