Ninth wastewater drug testing report released

Wastewater drug testing shows that $11.3 billion are now spent on illegal drugs each year by Australians!

As we’ve mentioned in some of our other blogs, the ninth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program has been released. The program, which involves testing the wastewater for drugs at sites across Australia, provides long-term insights into drug consumption, including illegal and legal drugs.

Integrity Sampling undertakes testing across Australia and New Zealand and commonly tests for cannabis, cocaine, methamphetamines, amphetamines and opiates as well as alcohol. According to Alcohol and Drug Foundation research, almost one in 10 workers say they have experienced the negative effects of a co-worker’s misuse of alcohol and drugs.

The ninth report relates to drug testing completed in August 2019, using wastewater from 58 wastewater sites across Australia, covering around 57 per cent of the population (about 13.3 million Australians).

Here are some of the highlights from the ninth report and the program overall:

  • $11.3 billion is now spent on illegal drugs a year. That estimate is, alarmingly, around $2 billion more than last year, when around $9.3 billion was spent on illegal drugs by Australians.
  • 5 tonnes of ICE are being consumed annually in Australia.
  • In addition, 4.6 tonnes of cocaine, 2.2. tonnes of MDMA and more than 900 kilograms of heroin are being consumed each year.
  • Capital city cocaine and heroin average consumption outstripped regional consumption during the ninth reporting period.
  • Regional average consumption of nicotine, alcohol, ICE, MDMA, MDA, oxycodone, fentanyl and cannabis exceeded capital cities.

The ninth report marks three years that the wastewater drug testing has been conducted and provides some excellent data to examine longer-term drug habits of Australians. For example, by comparing data from August 2016 to August 2019, it can be seen that the population-weighted average consumption of nicotine, ice and cocaine increased while alcohol, oxycodone and fentanyl decreased.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), the federal organisation behind the program, says that as well as potential harm, the significant amount of money spent by Australians on illicit drugs each year is generating profits for the sole benefit of organised crime groups.

“This is money that might otherwise have been spent on legitimate goods for themselves and their families. Organised criminals involved in the illicit drug trade prey on our communities to make a profit,” said ACIC CEO Michael Phelan.


Wastewater drug testing shows that $11.3 billion are now spent on illegal drugs each year by Australians! Credit US Department of Agriculture

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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