Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA): An expansion into the Pilbara, Western Australia

The link between the use of alcohol and other drugs, and crime has been well established by the Australian Institute of Criminology’s Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) project in metropolitan areas around Australia. However, little is known about this link in regional Western Australia. To better understand alcohol and drug use among a regional offending population, the DUMA project was utilised to collect data in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. In South Hedland (regional Western Australia), 51 police detainees were interviewed and compared with a sample of 209 Perth (metropolitan Western Australia) detainees. The present study provides empirical evidence on the usage patterns and role of alcohol and other drugs, and a picture of the local drug market in the Pilbara. The findings indicated that alcohol use was much higher in the regional setting, however illicit drug use among those interviewed was significantly lower across most drug types. Of particular concern were the levels of risky drinking reported by South Hedland detainees; which they were more likely to attribute to their current detention. The findings suggest the holistic approach to dealing with higher levels of substance use in the region should continue. These findings will assist in responding to community needs to shape prevention and response strategies.