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ACT illicit drug trends 2000

Media Release

30 November 2000

Results of research by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) into illicit drugs in the ACT were released today at the National Drug Trends Conference in Sydney. The research was part of a national Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) study funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care and the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund. The study, which is conducted annually in each state and territory, serves as a strategic early warning system on drug use trends.

The ACT Project Manager, Paul Williams, who is the Head of the Illicit Drugs Evaluation Program at the AIC, stated that heroin, amphetamine and cannabis were very easy to obtain in the ACT in 2000. Cocaine on the other hand was difficult to source during the year and it was not popular among injecting drug users. Of particular concern was an apparent increase in the number of young injecting drug users.

"Drug users are getting younger and there are more and more Indigenous people injecting drugs every year we conduct the study. Young people are moving from cannabis use to injecting harder drugs, particularly heroin, and relatively soon after commencing using drugs" said Paul Williams.

This might be related to an apparent expansion of cannabis dealers into the heroin market.

"A number of informants and injecting drug users told us that dealing was 'getting ugly' between 'professional interstate' dealers and local 'casual' dealers and between dealers and their clients".

Purity of illicit drugs were slightly lower than in 1999 but at historically high levels compared to 5 years ago and prices were the same or lower than in 1999.

Other trends

There were 478 non-fatal overdoses in 2000, 69 fewer than in 1999. To September 2000 there had been 9 fatal overdoses reported compared to 5 in 1999.

There were 549 drug-specific offences in 2000, 32 fewer than in 1999.

Demand for treatment places and drug-related counselling continued to grow throughout the year.

Media Fact Sheet: Australian Capital Territory Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) 2000

Heroin

  • Heroin was the drug of choice for three-quarters (76%) of injecting drug users.
  • Heroin was the drug last injected by four in every five (81%) injecting drug users.
  • The median price of heroin was $300 a gram and $50 a cap in 2000 - the same prices as in 1999.
  • Heroin was rated as easy to very easy to obtain by almost nine in ten (87%) injecting drug users.
  • Average purity of heroin in 2000 (53%) was lower than in 1999 (71%).
  • There were higher numbers of younger injecting heroin users and higher numbers of Indigenous persons injecting heroin.
  • There was an increase in numbers of people graduating directly from cannabis to injecting heroin.
  • There were more heroin dealers also dealing in cannabis (and vice versa).

Amphetamine

  • Amphetamine was the third most popular drug (8%) among injecting drug users.
  • Amphetamine was the last drug injected by one in six (16%) injecting drug users.
  • The median price of amphetamine was $180 a gram or $50 a cap - about the same as in 1999.
  • Amphetamine was rated as easy to very easy to obtain by one in two (55%) of injecting drug users.
  • Average purity of amphetamine was low (0.7%) and average purity of methamphetamine also as low (9.8%) - both lower than in 1999.
  • There were higher numbers of younger users of amphetamine in 2000.
  • Diverted prescription amphetamine (eg dexamphetamine) was a popular source.

Cocaine

  • Cocaine was not popular among ACT injecting drug users - 0% indicating it as their drug of choice.
  • Cocaine was the last drug injected by just 1% of injecting drug users.
  • Average purity of cocaine was low (25.9%) in 2000 - lower than in 1999 (47%).
  • Availability was rated as difficult to very difficult by 69% of injecting drug users who could comment on availability.

Cannabis

  • Cannabis was the second most popular drug of choice (11%) among injecting drug users.
  • Cannabis was used by nine in ten (90%) injecting drug users in the previous 6 months.
  • The price of cannabis was $25 a foil and $300 an ounce in 2000 (lower than in 1999 - $400).
  • Availability of cannabis was rated as easy to very easy by three-quarters (74%) of injecting drug users.
  • More cannabis dealers were also dealing in heroin (and vice versa).