Supply reduction

Interventions for reducing alcohol supply, alcohol demand and alcohol-related harms

Alcohol accounts for approximately four percent of deaths worldwide and 4.65 percent of the global burden of injury and disease, placing it alongside tobacco as one of the leading preventable causes of death and disability (Rehm et al. 2009).

Interventions for reducing alcohol supply, alcohol demand and alcohol-related harm

This project synthesises existing evidence and knowledge to improve our understanding of good practice in minimising the range of harms associated with alcohol misuse, especially supply and demand reduction strategies. It builds on the literature by using a Delphi study to answer many of the existing questions for which no research literature yet exists. All interventions that aim to reduce the supply of alcohol discussed in this report have received substantial evidence for their effectiveness. Specifically, reducing alcohol outlet opening hours, increasing minimum legal purchase age, reducing alcohol outlet density and controlling alcohol sales times have each undergone a vast number of evaluations and have been found to be effective in reducing the supply of alcohol and reducing the harms associated with its consumption.

Supply-side reduction policy and drug-related harm

This study examines whether seizures of heroin, cocaine or amphetamine-type substances (ATS) or supplier arrests for heroin, cocaine or ATS trafficking affect emergency department admissions related to, or arrests for, use and possession of these drugs. Two strategies were employed to answer the question. The first involved a time series analysis of the relationship between seizures, supplier arrests, emergency department admissions and use/possess arrests. The second involved an analysis of three specific operations identified by the NSW Crime Commission as having had the potential to affect the market for cocaine. The associations between supply reduction variables and use and harm measures for cocaine and ATS were all either not significant or positive. These findings suggest that increases in cocaine or ATS seizures or ATS supplier arrests are signals of increased (rather than reduced) supply. The three significant operations dealing with cocaine listed by the NSW Crime Commission did bring an end to the upward trend in the frequency of arrests for use and possession of cocaine. Thus, very large-scale supply control operations do sometimes reduce the availability of illicit drugs.

Supply-side reduction policy and drug-related harm

The three pillars of Australia’s drug policy are: supply reduction; demand reduction; and harm reduction. Supply reduction policy focuses on reducing the supply, or increasing the cost of, illegal drugs through such actions as crop eradication, drug seizures, arresting drug importers and distributors etc. While there is much evidence to support the effectiveness of demand and harm reduction measures, there is less evidence supporting the effectiveness of supply reduction policy.

The purpose of this study was to improve on, and further contribute to this area of knowledge and examine the impact of seizures and supplier arrest on the use and associated harms of three drugs: heroin, cocaine, and amphetamine type substances (ATS).