A recent study by the Daily Telegraph found drug residue in a high rate of Sydney pubs.

drug abuseUsing the Wipetect Drug Screen Device to swab surfaces in the toilets, the study found traces of illicit substances in 20 out of 25 venues tested.

The highest incidence was of cocaine, which was found in all 20 venues. Eight also had traces of methamphetamine (ice) and two of morphine.

While somewhat subjective, the study’s finding are in line with figures from the Bureau of Crime Statistics & Research (BOCSAR), which reports a 35 per cent increase in drug offenses in licensed venues in the five years to March, 2015.

BOCSAR also reports offenses involving cocaine have increased 87 per cent, and ecstasy 22 per cent. The UN World Drug report last year ranked Australians as the highest users of ecstasy (MDMA) in the world. It ranked Australia third for the use of ice, and fourth for cocaine.

Ecstasy is typically taken in tablet form, so would not likely be present on surfaces in toilets potentially used for cocaine, and was therefore not reflected in the Daily Telegraph’s study.

While the prevalence of ‘ice’ has grown in the public perception in recent times, including politician references to Australia’s “epidemic”, research suggests that its adoption throughout the community has changed little in the past decade.

What has changed is its potency, its rate of use by the same people (approximately two per cent of the population) and the prevalence of the most potent and dangerous form of methamphetamine – ice – as opposed to the powder form speed or other derivatives.

Operators are limited in their capacity to patrol what goes on inside cubicles, but are wise to familiarise themselves with physical indicators of drug use.

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