The National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program is a key initiative funded by the Australian Government in establishing an objective evidence base on illicit drug use and the level of use of a number of legitimate substances.

This report is the twelfth in an ongoing series on wastewater samples that were collected in August and October 2020.

Access the full report – National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program – Twelfth Report 

In August 2020, 56 wastewater sites were monitored nationally. Based on 2016 Census data,
these sites cover approximately 56 per cent of the Australian population. This reporting period
again demonstrated varying consumption levels for different drugs and jurisdictions.

~ In August 2020 average national methylamphetamine consumption decreased to the lowest level
recorded by the Program.

~ Average national heroin consumption increased to the highest level recorded by the Program.

~ August 2020 also saw record consumption of cannabis in regional Australia.

~ Consumption of both methylamphetamine and cocaine increased in capital cities between August and October 2020.

~ The measured pharmaceutical opioids also exhibited different trends during this period.

~ National average fentanyl consumption continued to decrease in both capital city and regional areas to record low levels.

~ Average consumption of oxycodone increased in both the capital cities and regional areas.

~ Per capita consumption of oxycodone in August 2020 in one jurisdiction exceed per capita consumption of methylamphetamine, the first time this has occurred anywhere in Australia.


Over the four years of the Program, the population-weighted average consumption of all drugs
monitored by the Program has fluctuated.

~ Consumption of the four major illicit drugs with available dose data (methylamphetamine, cocaine, MDMA and heroin) has increased substantially.

~ There was record annual consumption of cocaine, MDMA and heroin in Year 4 of the Program.

~ Consumption of methylamphetamine decreased during Year 4 to the second highest level seen by the Program, largely due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on supply and demand.

~ The estimated street value of the above four drugs in Year 4 of the Program was $8.9 billion, down from $11.3 billion in Year 3, largely due to general price reductions for illicit drugs and the decrease in methylamphetamine consumption.

~ Methylamphetamine still accounted for 78 per cent of the total estimated value of the four drugs in Year 4.