SA Drug Trends 2009: Findings from the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS)

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Author: N. White, R. Vial, R. Ali

Resource Type: Drug Trends Jurisdictional Reports

The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) was trialled in 1997 under the auspices of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) to examine drug trends in three Australian jurisdictions. This work was commissioned and supported by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. The trial consisted of conducting the complete IDRS in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia (see Hando et al. (1998) for a national comparison, and Cormack et al. (1998) for the South Australian findings). The ‘core’ IDRS incorporated a triangulated approach to data collection on drug trends, and consisted of a survey of injecting drug users, a semi-structured survey of key experts (KE), who had regular contact with injecting drug users, and secondary data sources or indicators relevant to drug use.

The IDRS process was repeated in 1998 in the same three jurisdictions, and in 1999 Western Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and Tasmania joined them. For a review of the history and progression of the IDRS nationally up to 2000, see Darke, Hall and Topp (2000). The year 2008 is the twelfth year in which the IDRS has been conducted in South Australia, and the tenth year it has included all states and territories (see Stafford et al. (2009) for a national comparison of 2007 findings, and White, Vial & Ali (2009) for the South Australian perspective).

The IDRS provides a coordinated and ongoing monitoring system predominantly focusing on heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis, and contributes as an early warning system for emerging illicit drug problems. The IDRS is a sensitive and timely indicator of drug trends both nationally and by jurisdiction, it is simple to execute and cost-effective. As well as drug trends, the findings highlight areas where further research is required, or where changes may need to be made in terms of education, health promotion, treatment services and policy. The IDRS provides direction for more detailed data collection on specific issues such as those listed above.

The 2009 South Australian Drug Trends Report summarises information collected by the South Australian component of the national IDRS. The information comes from three sources: a survey of people who inject drugs (the participants), key expert interviews with professionals working in the drug and alcohol or related fields, and existing and up-to-date data indicators relating to drugs and drug use. The three sources complement each other, each having its own strengths and weaknesses. The results are summarised by drug type in tables designed to provide the reader with a ‘snapshot’ overview of drug trends in South Australia.