Supply-side reduction policy and drug-related harm
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This study examines whether seizures of heroin, cocaine or amphetamine-type substances (ATS) or supplier arrests for heroin, cocaine or ATS trafficking affect emergency department admissions related to, or arrests for, use and possession of these drugs. Two strategies were employed to answer the question. The first involved a time series analysis of the relationship between seizures, supplier arrests, emergency department admissions and use/possess arrests. The second involved an analysis of three specific operations identified by the NSW Crime Commission as having had the potential to affect the market for cocaine. The associations between supply reduction variables and use and harm measures for cocaine and ATS were all either not significant or positive. These findings suggest that increases in cocaine or ATS seizures or ATS supplier arrests are signals of increased (rather than reduced) supply. The three significant operations dealing with cocaine listed by the NSW Crime Commission did bring an end to the upward trend in the frequency of arrests for use and possession of cocaine. Thus, very large-scale supply control operations do sometimes reduce the availability of illicit drugs.