What’s happening with heroin?

Image: Illicit Drug Reporting System logo
Author: Fairlie McIlwraith, Sophie Hickey, Rosa Alati

Resource Type: Drug Trends Bulletins

Key findings
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  • Heroin remains drug of choice for half of IDRS sample, with 60% having used heroin in the previous six months. Use varies across jurisdictions with highest use in New South Wales and Victoria and lowest use in the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
  • Those who had recently used heroin were significantly more likely than those who had not to be male, to have begun injecting earlier, to have a longer injecting history, to be in treatment, to have a prison history, to inject at least daily in the previous month, to have very high psychological distress levels, and to have riskier injecting practices.
  • Sixty eight participants had overdosed on heroin in the past 12 months and most had experienced previous multiple overdoses.
  • Although heroin use may be declining (AIHW 2014), risk factors associated with use may have a high negative impact. These findings highlight the need for maintaining focused harm minimisation measures.