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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)


Northern Territory drug trends; PublicationNT; E-Journals




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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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12 Survey participants rated hydro as either easy (50%) or very easy (30%) to obtain, with the proportions rating it difficult or very difficult to obtain declining from 37% in 2007 to 17% this year. Bush cannabis was rated as difficult to obtain (50%). Hydro was obtained from street dealers (41%) and friends (35%) at a variety of locations, primarily: friends homes (35%), dealers homes (24%) and street markets (21%). Bush was most likely to be obtained from a friend (55%, 64% in 2008) at a friends home (48%). Methadone Recent use of illicit methadone syrup declined to 15% of the survey sample on a median of 2 days. Recent use of illicit physeptone also declined this year, to 22% of the sample, the lowest level found since 2003. In both cases use on a weekly or less basis was the most common pattern of use. Key experts partly attribute these declines to changes in prescribing practices by pharmacotherapy programs. Six participants had recently purchased methadone syrup for a median price of $1 per millilitre, identical to previous years, while 7 participants had recently purchased 10mg physeptone tablets for a median of $26, an increase compared to previous years. Participants were divided in their assessments of the availability of illicit methadone, with 50% rating it as easy and 50%% as difficult or very difficult to obtain. Two-thirds (67%) of those able to comment judged that illicit methadone availability had been stable in the six months prior to interview, with 17% rating it as more difficult. Morphine Pharmaceutical morphine continues to be the most frequently used and injected illicit opiate in Darwin (70% of the survey sample), with MS Contin being the most common brand (52%). At the same time, these proportions show reductions on previous years (previous minimum of 80% in 2004), consistent with KE reports that morphine is less commonly prescribed and so less readily available on the illicit market. In contrast, survey participants rated morphine as easy (55%) or very easy (14%) to obtain with less than a third (31%) rating availability as difficult. Daily (18%) and more than weekly (37%) use were the most commonly reported patterns of use for illicit morphine. The median price of the most common dose of morphine used in the illicit market, MS Contin 100mg, was stable at $80, as was Kapanol 100mg. Participants report that prices over the six months prior to interview have been stable (40%) or increasing (38%). As mentioned above, survey participants were divided on the availability of morphine, although less likely to rate it as difficult to obtain than has been the case in recent years. Sixtyone percent of those participants able to comment this year reported that morphine availability had been stable over the six months prior to interview. Oxycodone Recent use of oxycodone among respondents has increased: 41% of respondents had used some form of oxycodone in the six months prior to interview, 9% using licit oxycodone (3% in 2008) and 35% illicit (28% in 2008). Most illicit oxycodone use was via injection, 88% of recent users, with this route of administration becoming more common over time. The median price for 80mg of oxycodone increased this year to $60 ($50 in 2008), although consistent with previous years. Participants reported that prices had been stable or increased