Wastewater drug testing helps pave way for $20 million funding

The Federal Government has committed a further $20 million in South Australia to boost drug and alcohol treatment services.

In a media release to announce the funding boost, the Minister for Health The Hon Greg Hunt MP said that alcohol and drug misuse affects not just the individuals involved, but the people and communities around them.

“Drug and alcohol treatment services are crucial to enable people with substance problems to get their lives back on track. This funding will make a huge difference to South Australian communities by giving people with alcohol and drug issues the chance to get their lives back on track.” Mr Hunt said.

The funding will particularly target drug and alcohol issues in regional and rural areas of South Australia, including the areas of the Fleurieu region, Peterborough and Mid North, Port Augusta, Ceduna, Murray Bridge, Playford, Port Adelaide and Onkaparinga.

The need to focus on areas like these has been partly identified in the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program, which is drug testing the wastewater of Australians at sites throughout the nation. In South Australia, four capital city sites and five regional sites were monitored for the latest report, which was released last month.

South Australian highlights from the latest report include:

  • A consumption estimate of just over 1,000 kilograms of methylamphetamine in South Australia each year, as well as 108.8 kilograms of cocaine, 58.7 kilograms of MDMA (ecstasy) and 38.6 kilograms of heroin.
  • A decrease in methylamphetamine consumption in capital city and regional sites.
  • A decrease in cocaine consumption in capital city sites, but an increase in regional areas.
  • A decrease in MDMA consumption in capital city sites, with consumption remaining stable in regional sites.
  • A decrease in heroin consumption in both capital city and regional sites.
  • An increase in oxycodone and fentanyl consumption in both city and regional sites.

The wastewater drug testing program is run by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.  Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan APM says: “The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is the first of its kind in Australia, providing leading-edge, coordinated national research and intelligence on illicit and licit drugs.

“The program provides law enforcement, policy, regulatory and health agencies additional and more objective data on the use of methylamphetamine and 11 other drugs. This creates opportunities to shape the response to both the demand and the supply side of the illicit drug market, particularly in high-use areas.”

The national wastewater drug testing program shows that South Australians consume around 1 tonne of methylamphetamine a year.

The national wastewater drug testing program shows that South Australians consume around 1 tonne of methylamphetamine a year. Credit dirtyboxface (image modified) https://bit.ly/2P1Fa0w

Michael
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Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Thomastown and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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