About Drug Trends

We research & relay vital information regarding trends in Australia’s drug markets. This research is used to increase the evidence base for development of policy responses, interventions and a warning system for issues requiring further monitoring.

How we conduct our research

We use several research techniques to collect our data, including participant interviews, key expert surveys and the use of large national data sets.

Our Mission:

To give a timely and comprehensive overview of illicit drug use in Australia.

Our History

Drug trends started from three members of the UNSW funded research program NDARC (the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre) in 2002.


Recent use of ICE increases nationally by 6% from 2014.


Significant increase in crystal methamphetamine – highest rate of use in history of IDRS; decrease in the use of oxycodone.


“Ice Epidemic” in Victoria reported. Oxycontin® reformulated to make it harder to use via unintended routes of administration and Alprazolam® rescheduled to schedule 8 drug - IDRS used to monitor effects of these legislative changes. EDRS and IDRS begin to monitor the use of e-cigarettes.


MDMA crystal/Rock being reported in the EDRS.  Further take-home naloxone programs begin to be rolled out across the states. IDRS begins to monitor participants knowledge of these programs.


DNeT becomes a project, began monitoring the Silk Road. IDRS starts to monitor Suboxone® Film.  Australia’s first take-home naloxone program, the Expanding Naloxone Availability in the ACT program (ENAACT) commences in the Australian Capital Territory (IDRS).


Expansion in the number of NPS being monitored, including synthetic cannabinoids; buprenorphine-naloxone sublingual film (BNX film, marketed as Suboxone® Film) introduced with public subsidy.


NPS begin to be routinely monitored in the EDRS.


Reports of New Psychoactive Substance (NPS) use begin emerge in the EDRS.


IDRS asked users of crystal methamphetamine about the use of ice pipes for smoking crystal meth.


IDRS indicates recovery in the heroin market.


Increase in ice/crystal methamphetamine use across both projects; Australian media start to report on the “ice epidemic”; lowest of rates of heroin use in the history of the IDRS; The PDI is renamed to become the Ecstasy and related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS).


IDRS begins to routinely collect information on driving risk behaviours.


Temazepam gel caps taken off the market, IDRS report used as one of the sources for this decision.


Party Drug initiative (PDI) becomes a national project.


Availability of heroin begins to increase in most Australian jurisdictions; in NSW this is associated with a decrease in cocaine use.


IDRS documents early indications of a potential diffusion of cocaine from NSW to other jurisdictions, notably the ACT, QLD, VIC, SA and WA.


Increase in availability of ecstasy and related drugs; IDRS becomes a national project.


Heroin shortage (price of heroin increases and availability is limited); The Party Drugs Initiative (PDI; now known as the Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System - EDRS) was trialled in NSW only.


Overall use of (any form) methamphetamines peaked at 3.7% of the Australian population in 1998.  (AIHW, 2014)


The IDRS is expanded to include - New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.


The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) was piloted in New South Wales.

Our Researchers & Members

Drug trends started from three members of the UNSW funded research program NDARC (the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre) in 2002.