NDARC Monograph No. 47 (2001)
The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) is an ongoing project funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care (CDHAC) that has been conducted on an annual basis in NSW since 1996, and in all states and territories of Australia since 1999. The purpose of the IDRS is to provide a coordinated approach to the monitoring of the use of illicit drugs, in particular, heroin, amphetamine, cocaine and cannabis. It is intended to serve as a strategic early warning system, identifying emerging trends of local and national concern in various illicit drug markets. The study is designed to be sensitive to such trends, providing data in a timely fashion, rather than to describe the phenomena in detail, such that it will provide direction for more detailed data collection on specific issues.
The complete IDRS consists of three components: (1) interviews with injecting drug users (IDU); (2) interviews with key informants (KIS) who, through the nature of their work, have regular contact with illicit drug users; and (3) an examination of extant data sources related to illicit drug use, such as National Household Survey data on drug use, opioid overdose data, purity of seizures of illicit drugs made by law enforcement agencies, and so on. These three data sources are triangulated against each other in order to minimise the biases and weaknesses inherent in each one, to ensure that only 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 informant interviews and examination of extant indicator data sources, was conducted in all other jurisdictions. In 2000, with additional funding provided by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF), the complete IDRS was conducted in every jurisdiction. This is a significant advance on the results of previous years of the operation of the IDRS, as 2000 represents the first year in which standardised, directly comparable data relating to illicit drug use and markets have been collected in every Australian jurisdiction. The Australian Drug Trends 2000 report presents a summary of these findings.
Detailed reports describing drug trends in each jurisdiction can be obtained from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Also available are reports presenting the results of the first year of a trial of the feasibility of adding ecstasy and other party drugs to the list of drug classes monitored by the IDRS (McAllister, Topp, Dawes, Watt & Shuttlewood, 2001; Topp & Darke, 2001). Results pertaining to ecstasy are not presented or discussed in the present report.