Drug testing of sewage shows Australians are using more ketamine and less MDMA

The latest sewage drug testing report from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission shows Australians using more ketamine and less MDMA.
Australian drug use

Australians are taking record levels of ketamine but MDMA use is declining, according to the latest national wastewater study of Australian drug use.

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) has been drug testing sewage since 2016 and publishes regular findings on drug use in Australia.

Its latest report covers wastewater analysed over autumn 2023. Here’s what it found.

Alcohol and Nicotine

Alcohol consumption increased slightly in autumn compared to summer.

However, the results suggest that Australians consumed 0.5 fewer standard drinks per day than the recorded peak in 2018.

Nicotine usage has been relatively steady. The highest rates of nicotine and alcohol usage were found in Tasmania and the NT, and lowest in SA.

Cocaine, Ketamine and MDMA

Australia’s cocaine usage increased slightly in autumn and remains at high levels by international standards. Usage is higher in capital cities, and highest in Sydney.

MDMA usage has steadily declined since 2016, a trend that continued in autumn.

The illicit use of ketamine has increased in recent years and is at a record high, with usage concentrated in Victoria.

Other Drugs

Cannabis is used significantly more than any other generally illegal drug in Australia. Its usage was broadly stable in autumn and is much higher in regional areas than in capital cities.

Opioid consumption (including heroin and synthetic opioids fentanyl and oxycodone) fluctuated but is generally higher in regions. Two wastewater sites in Victoria recorded very high heroin levels.

Methylamphetamine (known in its crystal form as ‘ice’) usage increased slightly and was highest in Sydney.

For drug help, you can call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.

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