Drug Use and Covid-19

Comment: The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) has released a summary report of a study – Australians’ Drug Use: Adapting to Panademic Threats (ADAPT) study. This study examines the experience of Australians who use illicit drugs. The reference to Wave 1 and 2 reflect two different time periods the survey was conducted.

The ADAPT cohort who completed the Wave 2 survey comprised mostly young, well-educated capital city dwellers. Being a convenience sample, findings from the ADAPT study cannot be considered representative of all people that use drugs.
• Cannabis continued to be the substance with the greatest proportion reporting increased use relative to before COVID-19 restrictions, although the percentage declined relative to Wave 1 (56% reporting increased use at Wave 1 versus 44% at Wave 2).
• MDMA, cocaine and ketamine continued to be the substances with the greatest proportion reporting decreased use (47%, 42%, and 40%, respectively) relative to before COVID-19 restrictions, consistent with Wave 1 (49%, 39%, 32%, respectively).
• However, there was considerable diversity in changes in consumption across individuals and drug types, highlighting the heterogeneity of experiences among people who use drugs.
• Perceived availability was reported as easy/very easy for most drugs, however there was an increase in the perception of methamphetamine being ‘very difficult’ to obtain at Wave 2.
• The percentage of participants reporting that they had drugs delivered to them in the past month declined in Wave 2. There was a small increase in the percentage reporting not obtaining illicit drugs in the past month.
• Experience of drug-related harms remained relatively consistent between Waves 1 and 2.
• More than half of participants reported poorer mental health in the past four weeks relative to before March 2020, consistent with Wave 1. The percentage of the sample reporting accessing mental health treatment increased from 39% at Wave 1 to 47% at Wave 2.

October 2020 report available here