Tenth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program―Australia’s stimulant consumption among the highest in the world

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) today released the tenth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, covering sampling in October and December 2019 and February 2020.

The report includes updated SCORE data, which provides comparable international consumption data for a number of drugs monitored by the program. When compared to 30 other countries, Australia ranks fourth highest for total estimated stimulant consumption (specifically methylamphetamine, amphetamine, cocaine and MDMA) and third highest for consumption of both methylamphetamine and MDMA.

The ACIC received an additional $4.8 million over four years in the 2019 Budget to fund the program, building its longitudinal data and delivering an additional twelve public reports.

Report 10 covers 43 per cent of the population, which equates to about 10 million people. Fifty-three wastewater treatment plants across Australia participated in the December 2019 collection, which monitored the consumption of 13 substances.

Nicotine and alcohol remain the highest consumed drugs measured by the program for which dose data is available, with methylamphetamine remaining the highest consumed illicit drug.

There were reported increases in the population-weighted average consumption of nicotine, methylamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA and fentanyl in both capital city and regional sites from August to December 2019. The population-weighted average consumption of cannabis in capital city sites and alcohol in regional sites also increased over the same period.

During the period monitored by the report, there were a number of record consumption levels reported, including 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.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan APM said the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program gives valuable insight into the trends and emerging issues of drug consumption across Australia, while helping to identify new sources of threat.

“Australians continue to consume illicit drugs at increasing levels and the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is providing an important and consistent measure to guide and monitor drug responses,” Mr Phelan said.

“The program continues to evolve and demonstrate its flexibility.”

The report is available from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission website: www.acic.gov.au

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 locations are not able to be publicly released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. 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 are still able to be identified.