Australian drug trends and what it means for workplace drug testing

What are the recent drug trends and what do they mean for workplace drug testing?

As workplace drug testing providers we always cast a keen eye on creditable reports into drug use in Australia and a recent one to be published was the Australian Drug Trends 2018 report.

The report from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre is particularly interesting because of the way information is gathered. It involves interviewing Australians who regularly take illegal drugs and for the 2018 report the number involved was 799, from all capital cities in Australia.

As the background into the report states, the results are not meant to represent all people who consume illicit drugs, nor of illicit drug use in the general population. Instead, the data is intended to provide evidence indicative of emerging issues that warrant further monitoring and the findings should be taken alongside other data sources on drug use in Australia.

So, what are some of the highlights from the report this year and how do findings compare to previous years?

  • Ecstasy and cannabis were the main illegal drugs of choice for the 799 people, with cannabis the most used.
  • For ecstasy, the market has diversified with pill use declining and the use of capsules and crystal increasing. The report claims this is at least partially due to capsules and crystal being perceived to be higher purity.
  • Twenty-seven percent of those interviewed used ecstasy at least once a week.
  • Use of methamphetamines has been declining amongst the national sample since monitoring began. However, a worrying trend is an increase in the more harmful crystal form of methamphetamines, ICE.
  • Cocaine use has fluctuated somewhat, but overall is increasing.
  • At least 75% of those interviewed has reported recent use of cannabis each year since monitoring started. However, in 2018, this rose to 90%, with 25% reporting daily use.

While these finding and others seem concerning, and they are, the real issue is the harm and other risks due of taking illegal drugs and other drugs. Of the 799 people interviewed, 25% reported a non-fatal stimulant overdose in the past year and close to half said they’ve experienced a mental health issue in the past six months. In addition, 32% of the group reported engaging in drug dealing and 20% engaged in property crime in the past month.

What does all this mean for workplace drug testing providers, and owners and managers of businesses?

While this report involved people who regularly take illegal drugs, it’s worth remembering that people can take drugs regularly or irregularly and still hold down employment. The only way to protect your business, particularly if your workplace is safety-focussed, is to have a drugs and alcohol policy and to conduct workplace drug testing regularly.


What are the recent drug trends and what do they mean for workplace drug testing? Credit Smokers High Life

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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