NDARC Monograph No. 50 (2003)

The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) is an ongoing illicit drug monitoring system funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing (CDHA) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund. The IDRS has been conducted in all states and territories of Australia since 1999. 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 various illicit drug markets. The study is designed to be sensitive to trends, providing data in a timely manner, 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 methodology 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 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 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. From 2000, with additional funding provided by the National Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund (NDLERF), the complete IDRS was conducted in all jurisdictions. This is a significant advance as it provides three years in which standardised, directly comparable data relating to illicit drug use and markets have been collected in all jurisdictions. The Australian Drug Trends 2002 report presents these findings.

To provide an understanding of some of the reasons for differences between jurisdictions, detailed reports describing drug trends in each jurisdiction can be obtained from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.



Courtney Breen, Louisa Degenhardt, Amanda Roxburgh, Raimondo Bruno, Anthea Duquemin, James Fetherston, Jane Fischer, Rebecca Jenkinson, Stuart Kinner, Marie Longo, Catherine Rushforth
Date Commenced
28 Nov 2003
Resource Type