The 2009 NT Trends in Ecstasy and Related Drug Markets report represents the seventh year in which data has been collected in the Northern Territory (NT) on the markets for ecstasy and related drugs (ERD). The Ecstasy and related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS; formerly the Party Drugs Initiative, or PDI) is the most comprehensive and detailed study of ERD markets in the NT. Using a similar methodology to the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS), the EDRS monitors the price, purity and availability of ‘ecstasy’ (MDMA) and other related drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, gamma-hydroxy-butyrate (GHB), and ketamine. It also examines trends in the use and harms of these drugs. It utilises data from three sources: (a) surveys with regular ecstasy users (REU); (b) surveys with key experts (KE) who have contact with REU through the nature of their work; and (c) the analysis of existing data sources that contain information on ecstasy and other drugs. REU are recruited because they are considered a sentinel group to detect illicit drug trends. The information from REU is therefore not representative of ecstasy and other drug users in the general population, but is indicative of emerging trends that may warrant further monitoring.
The findings from each year not only provide a snapshot of the drug markets in the NT, but also help to provide an evidence base for policy decisions, inform harm reduction messages, and provide directions for further investigation when issues of concern are detected. Continued monitoring of the ERD markets in the NT will help add to our understanding of the use of these drugs, the price, purity and availability of these drugs and how these may impact on each other, and the associated harms which may stem from the use of these drugs.
In 2009, 67 REU were interviewed in Darwin for the EDRS. The EDRS attempts to recruit 100 REU in each state and territory of Australia. Recruitment of REU appears to be much more difficult in Darwin, possibly due to a number of factors, such as the size of the population or the price of ecstasy (greater in Darwin than in other capital cities). Furthermore, whilst the EDRS attempts to interview at least 20 KE in each capital city, only 12 were interviewed in Darwin. Attempts to locate and interview KE who were knowledgeable in ERD also proved difficult.