While issues such as a safe injecting room in Richmond continue to be debated in Melbourne, in regional Victoria new drug testing figures have highlighted that use of the drug ICE is growing.
The new figures are contained in the release of the fourth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, produced by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. The program is using wastewater to test for levels of illicit and licit drugs. The rather novel drug testing method (see below) has revealed that use of methylamphetamine, commonly known as the drug ICE, has increased in regional Victoria.
“It is highly concerning to see methylamphetamine consumption on the rise in regional sites in Victoria,” said Michael Phelan, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s CEO. “This destructive drug is having a terrible impact not only on users, but on families, first responders, health practitioners and the community more broadly.”
Here are the highlights of the wastewater drug testing in Victoria, released in the fourth report:
- Nicotine and alcohol remain the highest consumed substances.
- Average methylamphetamine consumption decreased in capital city sites and increased in regional sites.
- Average cocaine consumption decreased in capital city sites and increased in regional sites.
- Average MDMA (ecstasy) consumption decreased in capital city and regional sites.
- Average heroin consumption decreased in capital city and regional sites.
- Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory had the highest average capital city heroin consumption in the country.
- Victoria had the highest average regional consumption of oxycodone in the country.
Wastewater for drug testing – what the?
While using wastewater to conduct drug testing may seem strange, it is in fact widely used around the world to measure drug use within large populations.
Drug testing using wastewater is being used for the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program to provide leading-edge, coordinated national research and intelligence on illicit drugs and licit drugs. Methylamphetamines, commonly known as ICE, is a major focus as well as 12 other substances.
For the fourth report, samples were collected from 45 wastewater sites across Australia during October and December 2017. These sites covered 54.3 per cent of Australia’s population—around 12.7 million people.