09. Heroin markets in Australia: current understandings and future possibilities

This monograph (No. 09) approaches drug markets from an economic perspective. It outlines central economic concepts in an accessible form for the non-economist, then reviews four key aspects of the Australian heroin drug market. These are: measuring the size of the heroin market; heroin prices; the heroin distribution network (using a risk and prices framework); and the relationship bteween heroin price and harm (in this case overdose).

The monograph sets out to summarise the existing information and data, and identify what we don't know about the heroin drug market. The authors conclude with a number of insights about the heroin market in Australia. We have much information to inform our understanding but it appears to be underutilised. The amount of heroin consumed may be substantially less than is commonly thought (potentially attributable to the heroin 'shortage'). Price is responsive to market changes - large increases in heroin price occurred with the decreased availability of heroin. The authors also demonstrate a strong relationship between heroin price and non-fatal heroin overdose - as price increases, overdoses decrease. Future research into heroin markets in Australia could provide more detailed examination of causal relationships (and move away from descriptive research).