The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS)

Tags: PWID, drug trends
Date Commenced:
Expected Date of Completion:
Project Supporters:

Australian Government Department of Health

Image: IDRS logo
Project Members
image - 1314149058 Courtney Breen 002
Research Fellow
Ph 02 9385 0282
image - 1314680208 Natasha Sindicich 20
Senior Research Officer
Ph 02 9385 0191
image - 1314150148 Jenny Stafford 007
Senior Research Officer
Ph 02 9385 0244
image - Toni Hordern Square
Research Officer
Ph +61 2 9385 0407
image - Ndarc 032
Research Officer
Ph 02 9385 0187
Project Collaborators: External

Chris Moon (Department of Health and Community Services)

Rosa Alati (Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre)

Fairlie McIllwraith (Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre)

Raimondo Bruno (University of Tasmania)

Amy Peacock (University of Tasmania)

Simon Lenton (National Drug Research Institute)

James Fetherston (National Drug Research Institute)

Paul Dietze (Burnet Institute Victoria)

Campbell Aitken (Burnet Institute Victoria)

Project Main Description

The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) is a national illicit drug monitoring system intended to identify emerging trends of local and national concern in illicit drug markets. The IDRS consists of three components: interviews with people who inject drugs (PWID) regularly; interviews with key experts (KEs), who are professionals who have knowledge of drug trends and/or regular contact with users through their work; and analysis and examination of indicator data sources related to illicit drugs. The IDRS monitors the price, purity, availability and patterns of use of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis. The IDRS is designed to be sensitive to trends, providing data in a timely manner, rather than describing issues in detail.

For more information about the project and all resources, visit


The aims of this project are:

  • to monitor the price, purity, availability and patterns of use of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis

  • to identify emerging trends in illicit drug markets in Australia that require further investigation

Design and Method

The IDRS analyses three main sources of information to document drug trends:

  • a quantitative survey of people who inject drugs (PWID)
  • a semi-structured interview with KE who are professionals working in the illicit drug field, and have regular contact with and/or specialised knowledge of users, dealers or manufacturers
  • a collation of existing indicator data on drug-related issues

Data from these three sources are triangulated against each other to determine the convergent validity of trends detected. The data sources complement each other in the nature of the information they provide. Data from each year's IDRS studies are compared to earlier findings to determine changes in drug trends over time. The strengths of the IDRS are the ability to compare data across jurisdictions as well as over time. 


The IDRS is an ongoing project that is conducted annually in all Australian jurisdictions. In 2015, 888 PWID were interviewed in capital cities across Australia, providing information on their use patterns, drug markets and related issues. KE from a range of professions provided information on the drug use among PWID they had contact with. Indicator data including Australian Customs Service seizures, purity analysis, overdose and treatment data were examined.

The project is ongoing in 2016.



The most recent IDRS output can be found below under "Resources". For all reports and resources from the IDRS and our other Drug Trends projects, visit

Reports/monographs expected in April 2016:

  • Australian Illicit Drugs Reporting System 2015 monograph
  • ACT Illicit Drugs Reporting System 2015 report
  • NSW Illicit Drugs Reporting System 2015 report
  • NT Illicit Drugs Reporting System 2015 report
  • QLD Illicit Drugs Reporting System 2015 report
  • SA Illicit Drugs Reporting System 2015 report
  • TAS Illicit Drugs Reporting System 2015 report
  • VIC Illicit Drugs Reporting System 2015 report
  • WA Illicit Drugs Reporting System 2015 report


Four IDRS bulletins and one supplement

Conference handout:

Key findings from the 2015 IDRS: Drug Trends Conference handout

Drug Trends hosts an annual conference in October. The 15th National Drug Trends Conference was held on October 14, 2015. To view selected posters and presentations from the conference, please visit the event page.

Throughout the year, quarterly bulletins outlining current drug trends or issues of interest are disseminated. These bulletins are available on the NDARC website on the 'Drug Trends' group page or on

Finally, national and state reports of IDRS findings are released in April each year. Recent national and jurisdictional reports can be found at the bottom of this page. Older reports can be accessed by going to the Resources page and clicking on 'Drug Trends National Reports' or 'Drug Trends State Reports' on the right hand menu. You can also search for a specific report in the Resources page search bar.


Whittaker E, Swift W, Roxburgh A, Dietze P, Cogger S, Bruno R, Sindicich N & Burns L. (2015). Multiply disadvantaged: Health and service utilisation factors faced by homeless injecting drug consumers in Australia. Drug and Alcohol Review.

Sutherland, R., Sindicich, N., Barratt, E., Whittaker, E., Peacock, A., Hickey, S. & Burns, L. (2015). Motivations, substance use and other correlates amongst property and violent offenders who regularly inject drugs. Addictive Behaviors doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.01.034

Hughes, C., Ritter, A., Cowdery, N. & Sindicich, N. (2014). ‘Trafficking’ or ‘personal use’: Do people who regularly inject drugs understand Australian drug trafficking laws? Drug and Alcohol Review, 33(6):658-66

Lancaster, K., Sutherland, R. and Ritter, A. (2014). Examining the opinions of people who use drugs towards drug policy in Australia. Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, 21(2):93-101. 

McIlwraith, F., Steven Betts, K., Jenkinson, R., Hickey, S., Burns, L. and Rosa Alati (2014), Is low BMI Associated with Specific Drug Use Among Injecting Drug Users? Substance Use and Misuse, 49(4): 374-382.

Reddel, S. E., Bruno, R., Burns, L., Kirwan, A., Lokuge, K. and Dietze, P. (2014). Prevalence and associations of quetiapine fumarate misuse among an Australian national city sample of people who regularly inject drugs. Addiction, 109(2): 295-302.

Lancaster, K., Ritter, A and Stafford, J. (2013). Public opinion and drug policy in Australia: Engaging the ‘affected community’. Drug and Alcohol Review. 32(1):60-66.

James Fetherston, Susan Carruthers, Tony Butler, David Wilson, & Natasha Sindicich (2013) Rates of injection in prison in a sample of Australian-injecting drug users, Journal of Substance Use, 18(1): 65-73.

D. Horyniak, P. Dietze, L. Degenhardt, P. Higgs, F. McIlwraith, R. Alati, R. Bruno, S. Lenton, L. Burns (2013) The relationship between age and risky injecting behaviours among a sample of Australian people who inject drugs, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 132(3):541-546.

Arora, S., Roxburgh, A., Bruno, R., Nielsen, S. and Burns, L. (2013), A cross-sectional analysis of over-the-counter codeine use among an Australian sample of people who regularly inject drugs. Drug and Alcohol Review, 32: 574–581.

Project Supporters

Australian Government Department of Health

Project Status
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