Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

Ecstasy use drops – while methamphetamine use rises

Media Release

21 February 2012

Recent data from the Australian Institute of Criminology’s (AIC) Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) program indicate a more than 50% decrease in the use of the drug ecstasy (MDMA) among police detainees over the past year.

A new AIC Research in Practice report finds that in 2010 and in 2011 only 5% of police detainees in watch-houses around Australia reported using ecstasy. In 2009 the figure was 11%.

At the same time, police detainees also indicated that ecstasy was lower in quality and harder to obtain in 2011 compared with earlier years. Ecstasy users also reported a decrease in the number of people selling the drug.

In addition to interviewing detainees, DUMA also collects and analyses urine samples to build a comprehensive picture of drug use and drug markets around Australia.

Manager of the DUMA program, Jason Payne said: “The decline in ecstasy use coincides with a spike in methamphetamine use, and the findings are consistent with data recently released by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre and in the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report.”

Last year, the AIC reported that 21% of police detainees in 2011 tested positive to methamphetamine—up from 16 percent in 2010 and 13 percent in 2009.

While the recent reduction in the supply of ecstasy, probably results from difficulties in obtaining the precursor chemicals used in ecstasy (MDMA) production, the probable consequences of a supply shortage is not yet known.

“It is worthwhile noting that these substantial falls in ecstasy use among police detainees have occurred simultaneously with significant increases in methamphetamine use,” Mr Payne said.

“The relationship between the production and supply of ecstasy and methamphetamine, but more importantly how users respond to such market changes, remains a key topic for further research.” Mr Payne said.

For Comment: AIC Media 02 6260 9244/0418 159 525