Opioid

Understanding and describing Australian illicit drug markets

This study has provided a detailed description of the drug purchase and drug use patterns of a cohort of people who inject drugs, and an understanding of changes that occurred between 2009 and 2014. During this period, heroin, methamphetamine, benzodiazepines and other opioids were typically purchased between 10am and 2pm with very little search time, were used almost immediately following their acquisition, and sharing a purchase or pooling money with a partner or friend was common, as were larger (>$100) purchases. Reported drug purchases and drug use both occurred more frequently in private homes than public settings, and this became increasingly so over time. Although the primary drug of the cohort remained heroin, two trends in drug use were observed: a transition from heroin to cannabis use, consistent with some of the cohort ‘maturing out’; and among existing methamphetamine users, a transition from powder to crystal methamphetamine use and increased methamphetamine consumption, corresponding with increased availability of the crystal form and a dramatic decrease in purity-adjusted price.

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).

Comparative rates of violent crime amongst methamphetamine and opioid users: Victimisation and offending

Plain English summary and implications for police prepared by Roger Nicholas.

Benzodiazepine and pharmaceutical opioid misuse and their relationship to crime

Northern Territory report

Plain English summary and implications for police prepared by Roger Nicholas.

Benzodiazepine and pharmaceutical opioid misuse and their relationship to crime

Tasmanian report

Plain English summary and implications for police prepared by Roger Nicholas.

Benzodiazepine and pharmaceutical opioid misuse and their relationship to crime

National Overview

Plain English summary and implications for police prepared by Roger Nicholas.

Opioid substitution treatment in prison and post-release: Effects on criminal recidivism and mortality

Opioid substitution treatment (OST) is an effective treatment for heroin dependence that is increasingly available in correctional settings globally; in 2009, at least 29 countries offered OST in at least one correctional institution (Larney & Dolan 2009). In Australia, OST is available in prisons in all jurisdictions, albeit with limitations on treatment access in some jurisdictions (AIHW 2010a). One rationale that is often given in support of prison OST is that it reduces post-release criminality; however, the evidence for this proposition is equivocal. Another rationale for prison OST is that it will reduce the risk of death by drug overdose in the post-release period. The aims of the studies presented in this report are to assess the effects of prison OST on re-incarceration, criminal convictions and mortality.

Comparative rates of violent crime amongst methamphetamine and opioid users: Victimisation and offending

There have been marked changes in methamphetamine use over the past decade as more potent forms of the drug have become increasingly available, particularly crystalline methamphetamine. A major concern of stronger potency methamphetamine is the increased potential for harm, such as psychotic symptoms and violent behaviour. Little is currently known about what effects methamphetamine use has on violent behaviour.