What is Drug Trends?
The Australian Drug Trends in Ecstasy and Related Drug Markets 2015 report presents the findings from the twelfth year in which data have been collected in all states and territories in Australia on the markets for ecstasy and related drugs (ERD). The Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) is the most comprehensive and detailed study of Ecstasy and related drugs (ERD) markets in Australia.
Using a similar methodology to the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS), the EDRS monitors the price, purity and availability of ‘ecstasy’ (3,4-methylendioxymethamphetamine; MDMA) and other drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), d-lysergic acid (LSD), 3,4-methylendioxyamphetamine (MDA) and ketamine. It also examines trends in the use and harms of these drugs. It utilises data from three sources: (a) surveys with regular psychostimulant users (RPU); (b) surveys with key experts (KE) who have contact with RPU through the nature of their work; and (c) the analysis of existing data sources that contain information on ERD. The EDRS is designed to be sensitive to emerging trends, providing data in a timely manner, rather than describing issues in extensive detail.
The findings from each year not only provide a snapshot of the ERD market in Australia, but they help to provide an evidence base for policy decisions; help to inform harm reduction messages; and to provide directions for further investigation when issues of concern are detected. Continued monitoring of the ERD markets in Australia adds to our understanding of the use of these drugs; the price, purity and availability of these drugs; and how these may impact on each other; and the associated harms which may stem from the use of these drugs.
Drug trends in this publication are cited by jurisdiction, although they primarily represent trends in the capital city of each jurisdiction, where new drug trends are likely to emerge. Patterns of drug use may vary among other groups of REU/RPU in the capital cities and in regional areas.
Demographics of EDRS participants and patterns of drug use
- EDRS participants in 2015 continue to be a group that are aged in their mid-20s (mean age of 23 years), predominantly male (62%), the majority identifying as heterosexual (87%) and being single (62%). Small proportions (2%) reported currently being in drug treatment which was mainly drug counselling.
- The participants interviewed were well educated: 46% had obtained post-secondary qualifications; while 12% were full-time students.
- One quarter (24%) of the national sample was currently in full-time employment. The mean weekly income was $565 (a decrease from $601 in 2014). The main source of income was salary/wages (68%). Half were renting (53%) or living in the parental/family home (42%).
- In 2015, participants were recruited primarily through the internet a method increasingly being used.
- Data across time show that key demographic characteristics of the sample have remained relatively stable.
Consumption pattern results
- Ecstasy was the drug of choice for 30% of the sample with similar proportions reporting cannabis as their drug of choice (29%).
- The drugs most likely to have ever been used and to have been used in the preceding six months were alcohol, followed by cannabis and tobacco.
- Around one-third had binged on any stimulant in the last six months.
- Polydrug use was reported to occur weekly to fortnightly.
- Half of the sample commented on changes in the drug market in the six months preceding interview, the main themes included the increased use of caps (capsules sold as containing ecstasy), MDMA crystal/rock and DMT.