Latest wastewater report builds on drug consumption data

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) today released the thirteenth report of its National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program (the Program). For the first time the report includes ketamine excretion levels.

The thirteenth report presents data on Australia’s drug consumption for 12 substances, covering sampling in December 2020 (capital city and regional sites) and February 2021 (capital city sites). As with the two previous reports, wastewater analysis continues to provide unique insight into the impact of COVID-19 and related restrictions.

The December 2020 collection covers around 56 per cent of Australia’s population—about 13.1 million Australians. Of the drugs measured by the Program with available dose data, alcohol and nicotine remain the most consumed drugs in Australia, with methylamphetamine the most consumed illicit drug.

ACIC CEO Mr Michael Phelan APM said: “Understanding drug consumption at a population level supports effective allocation of resources to priority areas”.

“It also allows the progress of demand, supply and harm reduction strategies to be monitored.”

Reliable drug consumption data are a key indicator of the level of harm experienced by the community. The ACIC’s Program represents world’s best practice and is a vital tool for Government, law enforcement, health and other policy agencies.

“This reporting period again demonstrated varying trends in drug consumption, both nationally and within our states and territories,” Mr Phelan said.

During the current sampling period, average per capita regional methylamphetamine use fell below capital city levels for the first time since 2017.

“In addition to the benefits of longitudinal analysis of drug trends, the Program is structured in a way ensures it can evolve in line with trends in drug markets.

“This is why the ACIC has now added ketamine to the lists of substances monitored by the Program,” Mr Phelan said.

Ketamine is a central nervous system depressant which is used as an anaesthetic and analgesic in medical and veterinary settings. It can also be used illicitly in its own right, or in combination with other substances.

The report is available from the ACIC website:

Note to editors 

In accordance with current wastewater analysis conventions, the terms of the contract, and to protect the integrity of the Program, the exact sampling locations cannot be publicly released by the ACIC. To maintain the confidentiality of the participating site, each site was allocated a unique code to de-identify their results, however trends in particular states and territories can be identified.

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ACIC Media: 02 6268 7343