Improving understanding of psychostimulant-related harms in Australia: An integrated ethno-epidemiological approach

  • Research program: Ethnographic Research
  • Project status: Completed
  • Start date: April 2005
  • Expected end date: June 2010
  • Completion date: March 2011
  • Funded by: NHMRC
  • Lead organisation:

National drug surveys and surveillance systems have detected sharp increases in the use of ‘psychostimulant’ drugs such as the amphetamines, ecstasy and cocaine. The level of harms associated with excessive use of these drugs, such as mental health problems and drug dependence, has also increased, as has the use of these drugs via injection. These increases in the prevalence of use and related harms have also been detected internationally. Previous research on psychostimulant drugs, in Australia and overseas, has suggested that using these drugs in particular ways might be associated with a greater chance of contracting HIV and other blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis C (eg, through sharing needles and syringes or other equipment associated with injecting drugs); sexually transmitted infections and other sexual health problems (eg, through unsafe sex); and of being involved in violent incidents. Despite this previous research, however, little is known about the specific social and cultural contexts associated with psychostimulant-related harms, and this has stymied the development of appropriate responses to prevent such harms occurring. This research project will provide a greater understanding of the individual, social and cultural factors associated with psychostimulant-related harms through an innovative combination and integration of anthropological and epidemiological approaches known as ‘ethno-epidemiology’. In order to access a diverse range of psychostimulant-using contexts, research will focus on three urban sites: street-based drug users in Sydney, club drug users in Melbourne and home-based, recreational drug users in Perth. These groups have been chosen because they have high prevalences of psychostimulant use. The research project will provide important data that will inform future interventions, improve multidisciplinary models for drug research, and build Australia’s capacity to conduct cutting-edge public health research.

Name & Contact Details Role Research Program Location
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Professor Paul Dietze
Tel: 61 (0)3 9282 2134
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Chief Investigator

Harm reduction policy and strategies


  • Chief Investigator: Lisa Maher, University of NSW
  • Chief Investigator: Gabriele Bammer, Australian National University
  • Chief Investigator: Michael Clatts, National Development and Research Institutes

Professor David Moore
Tel: 61 (0)3 9479 8718
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Dray, A., Perez, P., Moore, D., Dietze, P., Bammer, G., Jenkinson, R., Siokou, C., Green, R., Hudson, S. and Maher, L. (2012). Are drug detection dogs and mass-media campaigns likely to be effective policy responses to psychostimulant use and related harm? Results from an agent-based simulation model. International Journal of Drug Policy, 23, (2), pp. 148-153. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2011.05.018 [RJ718] View web page

Perez, P., Dray, A., Moore, D., Dietze, P., Bammer, G., Jenkinson, R., Siokou, C., Green, R., Hudson, S. and Maher, L. (2012). SimAmph: An agent-based simulation model for exploring the use of psychostimulants and related harm among young Australians. International Journal of Drug Policy, 23, (1), pp. 62-71. DOI: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2011.05.017 [RJ717] View web page

Moore, D. (2011). The ontological politics of knowledge production: Qualitative research in the multidisciplinary drug field. In Fraser, S. and Moore, D. (eds.) The Drug Effect: Health, Crime and Society. Cambridge University Press, Melbourne. pp. 73-88. [CH173]

Moore, D., Dray, A., Green, R., Hudson, S., Jenkinson, R., Siokou, C., Perez, P., Bammer, G., Maher, L. and Dietze, P. (2009). Extending drug ethno-epidemiology using agent-based modelling. Addiction, 104, (12), pp. 1991-1997. DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02709.x [RJ644] View web page