Feature: National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report provides valuable insights
The ACIC’s National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program provides insights into the trends and emerging issues of drug consumption across Australia, while helping to identify new sources of threat.
In June 2020, the program released its tenth report, covering wastewater samples taken in October and December 2019 and February 2020.
The data in the report was comparable with international data on a variety of drugs and their consumption. A comparison with data from 30 other countries determined that Australia’s level of stimulant consumption is among the highest in the world.
According to the data, Australia ranks fourth highest for total estimated stimulant consumption specifically related to methylamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine and MDMA. Notably, Australia also ranked third highest for consumption of methylamphetamine and consumption of MDMA.
The tenth report covers 43 per cent of the population, which equates to about 10 million people. Fifty-three wastewater treatment plants across Australia participated in the sample collection, which monitored the consumption of 13 substances.
Consistent with the findings of other National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program reports, nicotine and alcohol were the highest consumed of the drugs measured by the program for which dose data is available. Likewise, methylamphetamine remained the highest consumed illicit drug.
Record levels were reported for capital city and regional MDMA and nicotine consumption, capital city methylamphetamine consumption, regional cocaine consumption, and regional alcohol consumption. Regional consumption of heroin decreased to the lowest level recorded by the program.
In the 2019 Budget, the ACIC received an additional $4.8 million over four years to fund the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, building its longitudinal data and delivering an additional 12 public reports. With this support, the program will continue to evolve and demonstrate its flexibility.
As Australians continue to consume illicit drugs at increasing levels, the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is providing an important and consistent measure to guide and monitor drug responses.