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The epidemiology of GHB and ketamine use in an Australian household survey (2007)

The epidemiology of GHB and ketamine use in an Australian household survey (2007)

  1. ThirdEyeFloond
    International Journal of Drug Policy xxx (2007) xxx–xxx

    Louisa Degenhardt, Matthew Dunn

    BACKGROUND: There have been apparent increases in recent years in the illicit use of ketamine and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), but to date there has been no examination of the epidemiology of use in the general population. This paper provides the first such Australian data on the patterns and correlates of GHB and ketamine use. METHOD: Data were analysed from the 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, a multistage probability sample of Australians aged 14 years or older. Associations between GHB and ketamine use, and core demographic and other drug use variables, were examined. RESULTS: 0.5% of Australians aged 14 years or older reported ever using GHB, and 0.1% reported recent use, with the prevalence of use being highest amongst those aged 20-29 years. Lifetime use of ketamine was reported by 1% of Australians aged 14 years or older, with 0.3% reporting recent use. Again, prevalence of ketamine use was highest amongst those aged 20-29 years. Those who reported ever using these drugs described a pattern of occasional use, with the large majority not using these drugs in the past year. Multiple regression analyses suggested that compared to non-users, GHB and ketamine users were more likely to report the recent use of a wide range of other drugs. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of GHB and ketamine use in Australia appears to be quite low. The present study found high rates of polydrug use, as have been documented in convenience samples of GHB and ketamine users in previous work. As for other illegal drugs used by small proportions of the population, detailed data on patterns of use and associated risks of use are probably best derived from targeted samples of users; household survey data allow comparisons of the relative prevalence of use compared to other illicit drugs and future work will provide the opportunity to consider changes in the extent of use in the general population.

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