The 2015 Global Drug Survey Says A Lot About Australia’s Drug Use

Few topics are more fascinating than the way in which we buy, sell and consume drugs in the modern day. Since the introduction of the internet and the rise and fall of giant drug marketplace monopolies like Silk Road, the general public’s purchasing patterns have detached themselves from the stagnant routine of yesteryear. In the most concise way possible, people are creative in the ways they buy drugs.

It was only back in March when the biggest drug heist of all time went down (which is most certainly worth a read about), giving everyone a taste of the uncertainty that comes with a shifting, untested marketplace.

Recently, the Global Drug Survey of 2015 has done wonders in shining light on the current drug marketplace, using partnerships with media enterprises like Fairfax Media to poll 102,000 people from 50 different countries (4030 of which call Australia home). While a potentially overwhelming amount of information was compiled – 4 million minutes, 67,000 hours, 2,800 days, 400 weeks or 7.5 years worth of data-sharing – the final product of the survey is a very concise insight into global patterns.

Survey founder Adam Winstock, a British addictions psychiatrist, has been drilled by various publications on a few key elements of the results, particularly the rise in the number of people purchasing drugs online.

For us, a few standout statistics bubble to the surface:

  • The number of people who have bought drugs online increased dramatically, shifting from 5% of total respondents, up to 25%. Winstock says this doesn’t mean a rise in drug users, but rather a shift in how people are buying their drugs.
  • The use of nitrous oxide – bulbs, nangs, whip-its – rose from 4.8% to 7.2%.
  • Australians are some of the biggest users of prescription drugs in the world.
  • The prevalence of synthetic cannabis is low (1.7%) however the risk of medical issues – usually emergency room admissions – is extremely high, solidifying what we all already know: the natural stuff is best.
  • One third of Australians want to drink less.
  • On the topic of things we already know, drugs, in general, are more expensive in Australia than anywhere else in the world.
  • There’s also a few particularly interesting graphs, including this one that shows how popular vaping and hot knifing is amongst cannabis users:

And this one, which shows EMT admissions per drug:

There’s also this one, which shows the amount of ecstasy (per pill) and MDMA (per gram) that users around the world consume per session:

There’s obviously a whole section dedicated to the dark web, and how using it as a platform for purchase has changed the experience of users both in Australia and throughout the world.

You can read the entire survey results here.
Primary illustration by Jim Cooke.


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