IDRS: Illicit Drug Reporting System

The IDRS is a national annual study conducted in each Australian capital city jurisdiction.

Serving as a strategic early warning system, the aim is to identify emerging trends related to the use, price, purity and availability of illicit drugs such as heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine and cannabis.

Drug trends are monitored in each jurisdiction through:

  • A survey with a sentinel group of injecting drug users.
  • In-depth interviews with a range of key experts in the field of illicit drug use, including Needle and Syringe Program (NSP) workers, drug treatment workers, medical practitioners, researchers and law enforcement officers.
  • Analysis and examination of a range of secondary indicator data sources related to illicit drugs, including ambulance attendances at non-fatal overdoses, drug seizures data and drug-related arrest data.


Participant recruitment and interviewing of key experts occurs between June and September each year.

An in-depth report of findings from the previous year’s study is released in March each year.




Available for download [HERE]


The IDRS study provides nationally comparable data with respect to patterns of illicit drug use and related harms, and provides a basis for better informing future policy and research initiatives.

Some recent examples of how IDRS data has been used to inform health, law enforcement and community sector responses to illicit drug use include:

  • 2003: Research into the course and consequences of the Victorian heroin shortage
  • 2003: In review of the Victorian Drug Treatment Service System
  • 2008: In research into the use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) and early intervention to reduce methamphetamine-related harms
  • 2010: Research into the self-reported wellbeing of PWID
  • 2012: Research examining the use of alprazolam among PWID in Melbourne
  • 2013: Research into the relationship between age and risky injecting behaviours among PWID in Australia
  • 2014: Research exploring the prevalence and correlates of quetiapine use among a national sample of PWID
  • 2014: Policy development and review activities and inquiries conducted by the Victorian Government (Law Reform Drugs and Crime Prevention Committee, 2014)
  • 2015: Research examining Victorian trends in methamphetamine use (Lim, Cogger, Quinn, Hellard, & Dietze, 2015).
  • 2016: An evaluation of measures of needle and syringe program coverage (McCormack et al.,)


The national IDRS is coordinated by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney.


Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing


Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Professor Paul Dietze

Program Director, Behaviours and Health Risks