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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

Publisher name

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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14 involving each of these drugs show increases since around 2004/05. Episodes involving benzodiazepines declined this year after five years of increase. Hospital admissions related to opioids, methamphetamines, cocaine and cannabis continued to occur at a lower rate than is the case nationally. The NT rate of admissions related to opioids has increased in the most recent year available (2007/08), while rates of admission for amphetamines and cannabis have declined. Consistent with previous years, a small proportion of the participants had either lent (3%) or borrowed (5%) used needles in the month prior to interview, with larger proportions sharing other injecting equipment. One third of the sample had reused their own needles, mostly once (12%) or twice (11%), although up to 10 or times in some cases. As in previous years, a large majority of the participant sample (92%) had usually injected in a private home in the month before interview. Most survey respondents (95%) had obtained their needles from an NSP during the six months prior to interview, with 4% obtaining needles from a chemist. Notifications of new cases of HBV and HCV were reduced in compared to 2008, and no new cases of HIV were notified in 2008. The finger-prick survey carried out in the Darwin and Alice Springs NSP found that HCV antibody prevalence increased from 29% of the sample in 2006 to 62% this year. Morphine and some form of amphetamine have been consistently the main recently injected drugs in the participant samples since 2000, although both declining this year compared to 2008. The pattern of injection-related problems in the participants sample is similar to that seen in previous years with scarring/bruising (45%) and difficulty injecting (42%) being the most common problems. The proportion of respondents reporting a dirty hit has increased to 25% (18% in 2008), with morphine continuing to be the drug most commonly associated with a dirty hit. Thirty percent of the participants sample reported having experienced a mental health problem within the six months prior to interview and the pattern of mental health problems reported is almost identical to that found in previous years, with depression (17%) and anxiety (10%) being the most common. Seventy-three percent of this group (22% of the entire sample) had attended a health professional for the reported mental health problem and most of these (64%) had been prescribed medication. Forty-three percent of this group (n=6) had been prescribed an anti-depressant, 36% (n=5) a benzodiazepine and 25% (n=5) an antipsychotic. Seventeen percent (19% in 2007) of those who completed the K10 component of the survey returned a result indicating a high level of stress and severity associated with psychological symptoms. Sixty percent of the participant sample had driven a car within the six months prior to interview. Of this group, 26% had driven under the influence of alcohol in that time, with 64% of this second group in turn having driven over the legal limit on a median of three occasions. Seventy-eight percent of drivers reported that within the six months prior interview they had driven under the influence of illicit drugs on a median of 30 (range 2 to 180) times within a median of 30 minutes after taking the drugs. Morphine (71%) and cannabis (33%) were the most common drugs reported by drivers, followed by speed (13%) and benzodiazepines (9%).