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Australian Drug Trends 2004: Findings from the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS)

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Author: Jennifer Stafford, Louisa Degenhardt, Emma Black, Raimondo Bruno, Kirsten Buckingham, James Fetherston, Rebecca Jenkinson, Stuart Kinner, Chris Moon, Josephine Weekley

Resource Type: Monographs

NDARC Monograph No. 55 (2005)

The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) is an ongoing illicit drug monitoring system funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF). The IDRS has been conducted in all states and territories of Australia since 2000. The purpose of the IDRS is to provide a coordinated approach to monitoring the use of illicit drugs, in particular, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis. It is intended to serve as a strategic early warning system, identifying emerging trends of local and national concern in illicit drug markets. The IDRS is designed to be sensitive to trends, providing data in a timely manner, rather than to describe issues in detail. Therefore the IDRS can provide direction for more detailed data collection on specific issues.

The complete IDRS methodology consists of three components: interviews with injecting drug users (IDU); interviews with key experts (KE) who, through the nature of their work, have regular contact with illicit drug users; and an examination of existing indicator data sources related to illicit drug use, such as National Household Survey data on drug use, opioid overdose data, and purity of seizures of illicit drugs made by law enforcement agencies. These three data sources are triangulated against each other in order to minimise the biases and weaknesses inherent in each one, and to ensure valid emerging trends are documented.

The complete IDRS was trialled in NSW in 1996, and was expanded to include SA and VIC in 1997. In 1999, the complete IDRS was conducted in the same three jurisdictions, while a ‘core’ IDRS, consisting of key expert interviews and examination of existing indicator data sources, was conducted in all other jurisdictions. From 2000, with additional funding provided by NDLERF, the complete IDRS was conducted in all jurisdictions. This advance has provided five years in which standardised, directly comparable data relating to illicit drug use and markets were collected in all jurisdictions. The Australian Drug Trends 2004 report presents these findings.