The Government Has Analysed Our Poo To Find Out What Drugs We’re All Taking

Answer: Lots of them.


Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

This morning the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission released a new report on the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program. If that sounds boring, let me put it another way: the government has sifted through huge quantities of poo to determine what kind of drugs Australians are consuming. Wild.

The latest results are based on the third analysis of wastewater conducted by the ACIC. This time around, the organisation chose 54 testing sites, across cities and regional areas, to cover 60 percent of the Australian population. The short story is Australians like their drugs — both legal and illegal.

The analysis found that, unsurprisingly, alcohol and tobacco are still the most commonly consumed drugs. Methylamphetamine was the most prevalent illegal drug, while cocaine and MDMA consumption had decreased. The ACIC suggested that recent seizures of cocaine and MDMA imports were responsible for the decrease in use. Excluding synthetic drugs, MDMA is now the least common drug in the country, according to the report.

Even though the consumption of prescription drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone had decreased in the past 12 months the ACIC expressed concern about their high use in regional areas. On the other hand, cocaine and heroin were both consumed more in cities than in the regions. Cocaine consumption in the city is twice the rate of consumption in regional areas and NSW, and the ACT are the two states with the highest reported use of the drug.

By comparing this study to other wastewater analysis conducted in the past, the ACIC was able to determine that while methylamphetamine use had increased year-on-year between 2009 and 2016, it has stabilised, and even slightly decreased in some areas, in 2017.

You may have noticed that’s one pretty common illicit drug that hasn’t gotten a mention yet: cannabis. That’s because the wastewater monitoring program doesn’t test for it, despite other studies demonstrating it’s the most common illicit drug in the country. We asked the ACIC why cannabis isn’t included in the report, and it turns out it’s because it’s hard to measure in wastewater.

“Cannabis is not covered by the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program as advice from the universities is that there are significant technical difficulties in arriving at accurate measures of its level of use due to the ways in which is breaks down in the sewer system, among other technical reasons,” the ACIC said.

I guess it’s useful to know that if the cops ever decide to conduct drug tests on your personal toilet, you won’t have any issues as along as all you smoke is cannabis.

Feature image via Australian Water Association