Go to top of page
5 April 2018

Cocaine use in NSW is highest in the country

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission has today released the fourth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, revealing New South Wales reported the highest levels of cocaine consumption in capital city and regional sites nationwide.

New South Wales also reported an increase in cocaine use and some of the highest MDMA and heroin consumption levels nationally.

Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security, the Hon Angus Taylor MP launched the report today, alongside Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan APM, in Mandurah, Western Australia.

“It is concerning to see cocaine consumption on the rise in New South Wales,” Mr Phelan said.

“The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program provides a clear picture of changing trends in the consumption of methylamphetamine and 11 other drugs across Australia. Armed with this information, government, health and law enforcement agencies can better target policy and operational responses and reduce the impact of drugs in our society,” Mr Phelan said.

Across the eight sites monitored in the state in December 2017—three capital city sites and five regional sites—findings show capital city and regional sites in New South Wales had the highest average cocaine consumption levels nationally, with the state also reporting the highest regional MDMA and heroin consumption levels nationally.

Mr Phelan said the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is world leading based on the number of substances tested, the frequency of testing, its breadth, depth and geographic scope and the longitudinal data it is generating.

The fourth report also provides conservative estimates of the weight of methylamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA and heroin consumed nationally in a year.

“We estimate that over 8.3 tonnes of methylamphetamine is consumed in Australia each year, as well as over 3 tonnes of cocaine, 1.2 tonnes of MDMA and 700 kilograms of heroin,” Mr Phelan said.

“Such estimates can then be compared with other data, such as the weight of drugs seized by law enforcement, to further enrich our collective understanding of these drug markets and identify the most effective supply, demand and harm reduction measures.”

The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program found that of the substances tested in December 2017 in New South Wales:

  • Nicotine and alcohol remain the highest consumed substances.
  • Average methylamphetamine consumption decreased in capital city sites and increased in regional sites.
  • Average cocaine consumption increased in capital city and regional sites.
  • New South Wales had the highest average capital city and regional site cocaine consumption in the country.
  • Average MDMA consumption decreased in capital city sites and increased in regional sites.
  • New South Wales and Queensland had the highest average regional consumption of MDMA in the country.
  • Average heroin consumption decreased in capital city sites and increased in regional sites.
  • New South Wales had the highest average regional consumption of heroin in the country.

For this report, samples were collected during October and December 2017, covering 12 substances. Forty-five wastewater sites were monitored nationally in December 2017, covering 54.3 per cent of Australia’s population—around 12.7 million people.

Population estimates have been refined in this report, which has increased the precision and accuracy of consumption estimates. Such enhancements enable the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and its partners to better shape more effective, targeted response to drug demand and supply—particularly in high-use areas.

“We will continue to engage with academia, industry and community organisations to expand use of the data, focus responses in high risk areas, and monitor the effectiveness of demand, supply and harm reduction initiatives,” Mr Phelan said.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission received $3.6 million over three years from Proceeds of Crime funding for the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program and has commissioned the University of Queensland and the University of South Australia to undertake the program and prepare the research report findings.

The full report is available on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission website.

Last updated
5 April 2018