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28 October 2019

Wastewater results show high levels of alcohol, nicotine, methylamphetamine and MDMA consumption in the Northern Territory

Today Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan APM and Professor Christina Lee, Associate Dean (Research), Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences at The University of Queensland signed a contract extending their involvement in the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program (NWDMP) for a further four years. This enables the University of Queensland, and through it the University of South Australia, to continue to undertake the data collection and analysis underpinning the program.

At the signing, the ACIC also released the eighth report of the NWDMP, revealing the Northern Territory reported some of the highest alcohol, nicotine, methylamphetamine and MDMA consumption levels across the country.

Across the two sites monitored in the territory in April 2019—one capital city and one regional site—findings show the Northern Territory had the highest average capital city and regional consumption of alcohol and nicotine nationally. The Northern Territory also had the highest average capital city consumption of methylamphetamine and MDMA, and the second highest average regional consumption of cannabis in the country.

Mr Phelan said that much of the harm that Australians suffer at the hands of organised crime is due to the illicit drug trade. By measuring the level of consumption of illicit drugs and legal drugs with abuse potential, the NWDMP provides a key indicator of the level of harm posed by these substances.

“Extending this valuable program to provide a further four years of drug consumption data will enable law enforcement, policy, education, regulatory and health agencies to build a more comprehensive picture of drug use in Australia,” said Mr Phelan.

The NWDMP found that, compared to December 2018, of the substances tested in April 2019 in the Northern Territory:

  • average nicotine consumption increased in both the capital city and regional sites
  • average alcohol consumption increased in both the capital city and regional sites
  • average methylamphetamine consumption increased in both the capital city and regional sites
  • average cocaine consumption increased in capital city site and remained relatively stable in the regional site
  • average MDMA consumption decreased in the capital city site and remained relatively stable in the regional site
  • average MDA excretion decreased in both the capital city and regional sites
  • average oxycodone consumption decreased in the capital city site and increased in the regional site
  • average fentanyl consumption increased in both the capital city and regional sites
  • average heroin consumption increased in the capital city site and remained relatively stable in the regional site
  • average cannabis consumption remained relatively stable in the capital city site and increased in the regional site.

The ACIC would like to acknowledge the valuable support and specialist expertise of the University of Queensland and the University of South Australia, which provide the NWDMP with leading-edge, coordinated national research on illicit and licit drugs and the wastewater treatment plant operators which provide invaluable contributions to the program.

The report is available from the ACIC 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.

Last updated
28 October 2019