Background Methamphetamine-related harms have been increasing in Melbourne, Australia, yet
little is known of how users interact with the drug market. We describe methamphetamine
purchases and use as reported by a Melbourne-based cohort of people who inject drugs (PWID).
Methods A total of 2862 interviews from 757 participants of the Melbourne Injecting Drug User
Cohort Study between April 2008 and February 2015 were used to generate descriptive statistics
for the: size, search time and setting (e.g. house, street) of methamphetamine purchases, and the
percentage that were shared; and the time of day, time between purchasing and using and setting
of methamphetamine use. Results No meaningful differences were observed between the powder
and crystal methamphetamine markets. The most frequently purchased amount of methamphetamine
was $100 with much larger transactions common; however 42% of purchases were shared,
most commonly 50/50 with a partner or friend. The median time to obtain methamphetamine was
20 minutes (interquartile range (IQR) 5–30 minutes) and the median time between purchasing and
using methamphetamine was 5 minutes (IQR 5–10 minutes). Most purchases were used between 10
am and 2 pm (43% of purchases), but 33% were used outside of business hours. Both purchasing
and using methamphetamine occurred more frequently in houses than public settings.
Conclusions It was common for PWID in our sample to obtain 4$100 of methamphetamine
with a partner or friend, with relatively little search time. Support services for methamphetamine
users may need to increase their operating hours to adapt to the large amount of use occurring
outside of business hours.
Link to publisher’s web
This work was supported by the National Drug Law
Enforcement Research Fund [NDLERF 2012/13-13]. The
Melbourne Injecting Drug User Cohort Study is funded
through National Health and Medical Research Council
grants and untied philanthropic contributions. NS is the
recipient of a Burnet Institute Jim and Margaret Beever
Fellowship and PD is the recipient of a National Health
and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior
Research Fellowship. The authors gratefully acknowledge
the contribution to this work of the Victorian
Operational Infrastructure Support Program.