Drug testing – it’s not a pile of sewage!


Next time you go to the toilet keep in mind that you might be taking part in drug testing!

Back in August 2016, we bought you the story of research undertaken by the Western Australian State Government as part of its methamphetamines strategy. The research was done by collecting wastewater from Perth, Bunbury and Geraldton treatment facilities for drug testing purposes. See Drug testing in Perth… Using your toilet!.

Similar testing has been carried out in Victoria and, according to a recent article by The Age, some interesting findings have been seen:

  • Regional Victorians are using more of the drug ICE than metropolitan people. In fact, the waste water drug testing found that they’re using nearly twice as much ICE and other methamphetamines; 1.8 grams per day per 1000 people, compared with just under 1 gram in Melbourne.
  • Regional Victorians also drank more alcohol. They were estimated to be drinking 20 litres of alcohol per day per 1000 people, compared with 13.5 litres by Melbourne people.
  • Tobacco consumption in regional Victoria was also higher – 3307 cigarettes per day per 1000 people, compared with 1850 in Melbourne.
  • Melbourne people are using more cocaine than their regional counterparts. In fact, much more! Melbourne people are consuming around 245mg of cocaine per day per 1000 people, compared with 77mg in regional Victoria.
  • The level of ecstasy use was similar in both regional (298mg per day per 1000 people) and metropolitan Victoria (273mg per day per 1000 people).

According to The Age, the drug testing of Victoria’s waste water was conducted by Monash University and Turning Point, an alcohol and drug centre that provides leadership in drug and alcohol issues.

Like in Western Australia and other parts of the world where drug testing using waste water is being conducted, the research was not carried out in order to catch individuals or groups using drugs. The drug testing is done to assist research into drug use and in order to better allocate health and support services for people with drug and alcohol issues.

One thing the research does tell us, if we really need another reminder, is that there are many people in our community who take risks by using illicit drugs. And some of these people are willing to take an even bigger risk by driving and going to work with drugs in their system. The Police see it in roadside drug testing and Integrity Sampling sees it in the workplace drug testing it carries out.

Drug testing using your toilet may sound a bit novel but it is providing important research data.

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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