Report | 17 05 2016


SA Drug Trends 2015: Findings from the Ecstasy and related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS)



This report presents the findings from the sixteenth year in which data has been collected in South Australia (SA). The Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS; formerly the Party Drugs Initiative, or PDI), monitors the price, purity and availability of ‘ecstasy’ (MDMA) and other drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), ketamine, d-lysergic acid (LSD), and 3,4-methylendioxyamphetamine (MDA). It also examines the demographic characteristics and patterns of drug use among regular psychostimulant users (RPU), the prevalence of risk-taking and harms related to drug use, as well as the level of criminal involvement among this group. 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 ecstasy and related drugs (ERD). The EDRS surveys are not representative of psychostimulant users in the general population. The RPU are a sentinel group that provides information on patterns of drug use and market trends.


The findings from each year not only provide a snapshot of the ERD market in Australia, but in total they help to provide an evidence base for policy decisions; for helping 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 will help add 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 primarily represent trends in Adelaide, where new drug trends are likely to emerge. Patterns of drug use may vary among other groups of RPU in Adelaide and in regional areas.


One hundred participants were recruited to the 2015 sample. As in previous years, the RPU interviewed were young, with a median age of 20. Three-fifths (58%) of the participants were male. Seventeen percent of the sample reported being in full-time employment with a mean income of $505 per week. Most participants were well educated; over two-fifths (44%) of the sample had completed some kind of post school qualification, and about one-third (35%) were current students. The large majority (89%) of the sample identified as heterosexual and 4% were currently undergoing treatment for their drug use. The 2015 sample were generally similar to participants in 2014; however, there was a significant increase in the proportion of participants who had completed a trade/technical course.


Cannabis remained the main drug of choice nominated by participants, closely followed by ecstasy and then alcohol. Aside from ecstasy, alcohol was the most commonly used drug among RPU, followed by cannabis and tobacco. As in 2014, polydrug use was common among this sample, with participants having tried a mean of ten different drugs in their lifetime, and seven within the preceding six months. In 2015, there were significant increases in the lifetime and recent use of amyl nitrate and benzodiazepines, as well as a significant increase in the recent use of antidepressants.


One-third (32%) of RPU reported recent bingeing on ecstasy or other related drugs in 2015. Among those who had binged for over 48 hours, alcohol emerged as the drug most commonly used in a binge session, closely followed by ecstasy and tobacco.


Injecting drug use remained low in 2015, with only two participants reporting that they injected any drug within the preceding six months.