The "lessons" of the Australian "heroin shortage"

Degenhardt, L., Day, C., Gilmour, S. and Hall, W. D. (2006) The "lessons" of the Australian "heroin shortage". Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy, 1 1: 1-7. doi:10.1186/1747-597X-1-11

Author Degenhardt, L.
Day, C.
Gilmour, S.
Hall, W. D.
Title The "lessons" of the Australian "heroin shortage"
Journal name Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention and Policy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1747-597X
Publication date 2006-05-02
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1186/1747-597X-1-11
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 1
Issue 1
Start page 1
End page 7
Total pages 7
Editor Janet Zwick
Place of publication London, U.K.
Publisher BioMed Central
Language eng
Subject C1
321202 Epidemiology
730205 Substance abuse
111706 Epidemiology
119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified
1701 Psychology
Formatted abstract
Heroin use causes considerable harm to individual users including dependence, fatal and nonfatal overdose, mental health problems, and blood borne virus transmission. It also adversely affects the community through drug dealing, property crime and reduced public amenity. During the mid to late 1990s in Australia the prevalence of heroin use increased as reflected in steeply rising overdose deaths. In January 2001, there were reports of an unpredicted and unprecedented reduction in heroin supply with an abrupt onset in all Australian jurisdictions. The shortage was most marked in New South Wales, the State with the largest heroin market, which saw increases in price, dramatic decreases in purity at the street level, and reductions in the ease with which injecting drug users reported being able to obtain the drug. The abrupt onset of the shortage and a subsequent dramatic reduction in overdose deaths prompted national debate about the causes of the shortage and later international debate about the policy significance of what has come to be called the "Australian heroin shortage". In this paper we summarise insights from four years' research into the causes, consequences and policy implications of the "heroin shortage".
© 2006 Degenhardt et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keyword Substance abuse
Drug abuse
Q-Index Code C1
Additional Notes Published under "Commentary".

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2007 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Public Health Publications
Institute for Molecular Bioscience - Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 16 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 29 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 20:53:59 EST