NT drug trends 2005 : findings from the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS)
Northern Territory drug trends; E-Journals; PublicationNT; NDARC technical report ; no. 243
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Drug abuse -- Northern Territory -- Statistics -- Periodicals; Drug abuse -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Drug abuse surveys -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales
NDARC technical report ; no. 243
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79 median days used has decreased by 33 days this year, median days injected by 60 days, and the proportion using morphine the day prior to the interview declined by 13%. IDU participants continue to report that morphine is easily and readily available for illicit use, and that this has been stable over time. There was only a 3% increase in the proportion rating morphine as difficult to obtain and no one found it very difficult to obtain. Friends remain the main source to score morphine and the median time to score remains unchanged. All but one respondent who said morphine was their drug of choice had injected morphine most often in the month prior. The number of 100mg MS Contin tablets dispensed through NT pharmacies has remained relatively stable over the last three years, while the number of 100mg Kapanol capsules shows a slow and fluctuating increase. This pattern may be reflected in the finding this year that the proportion of IDU reporting MS Contin as their most used form of morphine has decreased by 10%, and the proportion mainly using Kapanol has increased by 8%. Key experts report that morphine is less readily available from doctors but agree that it is still very easy to get on the street. Last year one KE suggested that local prescribing may no longer be the primary source of illicit morphine, although at the time there was no corroboration of this view. This year one KE who commented on morphine advised that there was less opportunity because fewer doctors were prescribing morphine, but noted that there were better organised criminal types who brought morphine in from southern states. 11.6 Methadone and buprenorphine Since 2003 there has been an increase in the proportions of the IDU reporting recent illicit use of methadone syrup (from 4% to 21%) and buprenorphine (from 13% to 20%). The median number of days on which IDU report using illicit methadone and buprenorphine remain low and slightly fluctuating. The price of methadone has decreased from $1 per ml in 2004 to $0.65 per ml in 2005. The price of 10mg of Physeptone has increased by $5. Almost half (49%) found illicit methadone easy to very easy to obtain and 62% of those who could comment thought that it originated from a takeaway dose a substantial increase on the 17% found in 2003. 11.7 Benzodiazepines Recent use of benzodiazepines has remained consistent over the last three years. Recent injection increased from 2003 to 2004 but remains stable this year. Vallium remains the most used form of benzodiazepine. 11.8 Pharmaceutical opiate diversion and substitution Voluntary controls on the prescribing of Schedule 8 (S8) drugs in the NT, in the form of patient contracts, were introduced in 2003, and legislative controls in the second half of 2004. The general aim of these controls was to better monitor, and in some cases reduce, over-prescribing and to reduce doctor-shopping. The same legislation allowed the prescribing of methadone and buprenorphine for the opiate dependent clients and a pharmacotherapy maintenance program has been established. As in previous years, the relationship between prescribing and street supply is not transparent. Both key experts and IDU report that it is more difficult to obtain morphine from prescribers, suggesting that the S8 controls are having an affect on that particular supply source. At the same
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