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NT Drug Trends 2009 : Findings from the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS)



NT Drug Trends 2009 : Findings from the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS)


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C. Moon




Drug abuse -- Northern Territory -- Statistics -- Periodicals; Drug abuse -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Drug abuse surveys -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals

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National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre; University of New South Wales

Place of publication

Sydney (N.S.W.)


Australian Drug Trends Series No. 44

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10 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This report presents the results of the 2008 Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) for the Northern Territory (NT). This is the ninth year that the IDRS has been conducted in the NT. The IDRS is co-ordinated by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales. It is jointly funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF). The IDRS combines data from a survey of injecting drug users (IDU) (referred to in this report as participants or respondents), a survey of key experts (KE) and the collation of illicit drug-related indicator data to monitor the price, purity and availability of a range of illicit drug classes and to identify emerging trends in illicit drug use and the illicit drug market. Demographic characteristics of survey respondents In 2009 the participant sample was mainly male (69%) with an average age of 40 years. Most (88%) of the sample were unemployed or on a pension at the time of interview and one in ten (10%) were employed. Twenty percent identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI). Most identified as heterosexual (90%) and the balance as bisexual (3%), gay or lesbian (7%). The sample had an average of 10 years of school education with most (67%) having some form of post-secondary education. Eight percent were in some form of drug treatment at the time of interview and 56% had some form of prison history. Patterns of drug use among survey respondents Cannabis (78%) was the illicit drug used by the largest proportion of the sample followed by illicit morphine (70%), a pattern also found in previous years. Illicit morphine (61%) continues as the main drug of recent injection, although with a reduced proportion (84% in 2008), while speed powder is reported as the most common drug ever injected (74%). Recent methamphetamine use (55%) and injection (51%) are comparable to previous years (57% and 55% in 2008). Recent smoking of crystal declined slightly this year to 7% of survey respondents, 9% in 2007, comparable to 2008 at 7%. Recent use of the base form of methamphetamine, 19%, increased compared to 2008 (10%), but remains lower than found in earlier (26% in 2006, 20% in 2007) Recent use of amphetamine liquid was stable. Recent use of heroin increased from 7% in 2007 to 14% in 2008, remaining stable this year at 13%. Illicit forms of most pharmaceutical opioids generally showed increases between 2007 to 2008: methadone syrup from 17% to 25%, physeptone from 26% to 36%, buprenorphine from 6% to 11%, buprenorphine-naloxone from 2% to 4%, and oxycodone form 11% to 28%. With the exception of buprenorphine, which shows another increase this year to 8%, recent use of this group of drugs declined to levels similar to those found in 2007. This is also the case for recent use of benzodiazepines: 33% in 2007, 40% in 2008 and 33% this year. Tobacco and alcohol were used by 92% and 55% respectively, stable when compared to previous years.