Report | 17 05 2016


VIC Trends in Ecstasy and Related Drug Markets 2015: Findings from the Ecstasy and related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS)



This report presents the results from the thirteenth year of the Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS), a study monitoring ecstasy and related drug (ERD) use and market trends in Melbourne, Victoria. It includes key findings from interviews with 100 regular psychostimulant users (RPU), key expert (KE) interviews and external indicator data. The 2015 EDRS Project was supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Substance Misuse Prevention and Service Improvement Grants Fund.

The mean age of participants interviewed as part of the 2015 RPU sample was 24 (slightly younger than in 2014). Other demographic characteristics were consistent with those measured in 2014; RPU interviewed in 2015 were typically heterosexual, well educated, from an English-speaking background, and few reported being in drug treatment. The proportion of RPU who were currently in full-time employment (14%) was the smallest ever recorded in the Victorian EDRS, and this was reflected in the lower mean income per week ($446) for the 2015 sample.


In addition to ecstasy, most RPU in 2015 reported having recently used alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, unchanged from 2014. The prevalence of reported recent use of psilocybin mushrooms was significantly higher in 2015 than 2014 (40% vs. 24%, p<0.05) while the prevalences of recent use of crystal methamphetamine (19% vs. 34%, p<0.05) and benzodiazepines (34% vs. 59%, p<0.05) were significantly lower.


Patterns of poly-drug use, binge drug use, the frequency and locations where drugs are reportedly used, and the availability of many drugs, have largely remained stable across the 13 years of data collection. Other findings, such as the emergence of ecstasy crystals, possible return of high methamphetamine and ecstasy purity, high percentage of alcohol use (some at potentially harmful levels) evident in recent years, criminal behaviour and the use of NPS warrant further exploration. The EDRS has also provided unique information on a range of issues of relevance to ERD-using populations, such as help seeking behaviour and sexual health risks.

The Victorian EDRS represents a key knowledge base from which to further explore patterns and characteristics of ERD use in the state. The primary aim of the national EDRS is to provide a ‘snapshot’ of the characteristics of regular psychostimulant use in Australia. Although the data collection methods described in this report have limitations, the findings can be used to inform other research with the capacity to target emergent questions relating to regular ecstasy use (see below).