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NCJ Number: 200283 Find in a Library
Title: Supply Control and Harm Reduction: Lessons From the Australian Heroin "Drought"
Journal: Addiction  Volume:98  Issue:1  Dated:January 2003  Pages:83-91
Author(s): Don Weatherburn; Craig Jones; Karen Freeman; Toni Makkai
Date Published: January 2003
Page Count: 9
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This study explored the effects of supply-side drug law enforcement on the dynamics of the Australian heroin market and the harms associated with heroin use.
Abstract: On or around Christmas 2000, media reports noted a major heroin shortage in Sydney and other Australian capital cities. Preliminary research at Australia's National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre confirmed a heroin shortage and a sharp increase in the price of heroin, along with a decline in its purity. Although it is too soon to draw firm conclusions about the causes of this shortage, there are a number of reasons to believe that drug law enforcement had at least some role. The heroin shortage provided a rare opportunity to examine the potential impact of such enforcement on the harms associated with heroin. Data on 165 heroin users in southwestern Sydney were obtained from the Drug Use Monitoring in Australia (DUMA) project, the New South Wales health records of heroin overdoses, and the Computerized Operational Policing System (COPS) database. The findings confirmed that the price of heroin had increased while purity, consumption, and expenditure on heroin had decreased as a result of the shortage. The decline in overall heroin use was accompanied by a significant reduction in the rate of overdoses in New South Wales. The health benefits related to the decline in overdoses, however, may have been offset by an increase in the use of other drugs (primarily cocaine). There was no apparent impact on crime rates during the heroin shortage. These findings show that effective drug law enforcement that reduces the supply of a particular drug can reduce the harms caused by that drug; however, users of that drug may shift to the use of other illegal drugs that have their own harmful effects. 8 figures and 29 references
Main Term(s): Drug Policy
Index Term(s): Australia; Foreign drug law enforcement; Heroin; Police effectiveness
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