The NSW Trends in Ecstasy and Related Drug Markets report is part of the Australian Drugs Trend Series put out by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. The EDRS monitors the price, purity and availability of ecstasy, (MDMA is included in this category), and other related drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and ketamine. It also examines trends in the use and harm of these drugs. It utilises data from three sources: a) surveys with regular ecstasy users (REU); b) surveys with key experts who have contact with REU through the nature of their work; and c) the analysis of existing data sources that contain information on ecstasy and other drugs. Regular ecstasy users are recruited as they are considered a sentinel group to detect illicit drug trends.
I am a regular ecstasy user who did an interview with the NDARC with a view to writing this article. The $40 with which the survey is incentivised was also welcomed. I became aware of the survey via an advertisement on the ecstasy information website “Pill Report”. According to my interviewer, Laura Scott, who is also one of the two publishers of the report, this was unusual. Most people who end up doing the survey were made aware of it via
advertisements placed in the music-based street presses Brag and Drum, which is also where NDARC spend most of their
The interview went for just under an hour. I was asked about my ecstasy consumption patterns, as well as my experience with other drugs. As the executive summary indicates, the NDARC are not particular interested in ecstasy consumption. Rather, they are interested in compiling information about all illicit drug consumption patterns and markets.
Ecstasy consumption is viewed as the “glue” of illicit drug use. I was asked a number of questions pertaining to my use of ecstasy, as well as my experience with, and consumption of, a number of other illicit substances. I was also asked many questions not directly linked to illicit drug use, such as how often I drove under the influence of alcohol, my views on current and hypothetical drug policies and my mental health history. It was in many ways a deeply personal interview, but I never once felt like I was being interrogated, though this may change from person to person.
It is clear from talking to Laura that very little is currently known about illicit drug consumption. Before true drug reform can be made, a body of knowledge surrounding drug use and its effects must be acquired. This is the goal of the NDARC and the Ecstasy and Related Drug Reporting System. If you think you might fit the category of regular ecstasy user and believe that the laws on illicit drugs need to change I strongly encourage you to respond to the advertisement below and take part in the survey. If nothing else, you’ll get $40 and affirmation that Sydney University has a far prettier campus than the University of New South Wales.
Consumption pattern results:
- Ecstasy continues to decline at a significant rate in relation to preference as a drug of choice (37% in 2010 to 27% in 2011). All other drugs including the top three: cannabis (20%), cocaine (14%) and alcohol (11%) continue to be reported at stable levels of preference.
- Significant increases were reported in those that reported excess stimulant use in a ‘binge session’.
- Poly drug use is reported by this sample in a fortnightly to monthly frequency.
- Almost half of the sample commented on changes in the drug market over the preceding six months to interview, the main themes included: The low quality or purity of ecstasy pills and the increase in use of MDMA capsules, newdrugs on the market such as: mephedrone, DMT and BZP, and an increase in prevalence of acid and decrease in drug use generally.
Researchers at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre would like to invite people who use ecstasy to participate in a one-hour confidential and anonymous interview for the Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System. Participants are reimbursed $40 for their time and expenses.
If interested contact Laura on:
phone: 0404 786 677