The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania has responded to the release of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s sixth report of the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program.


ATDC chief executive Alison Lai is urging the public to respond cautiously to the results.


“The information that is provided through the wastewater reports are insightful but they are not conclusive about how Tasmanians are using drugs,” Ms Lai said.


“Wastewater reports are very important to help Australia monitor the prevalence of licit and illicit drugs across local communities, and how we use this information is very important.


“While the reports tell us that Tasmanians are using a range of drugs, including alcohol, the results do not give us any information on how or why someone is taking those drugs.


“The increase in reported traces of methamphetamines does mirror an increase in the number of Tasmanians seeking treatment for this drug and it’s important to remember that drugs such as fentanyl and oxycodone are legally prescribed medications, and we need to be cautious in raising concerns that a detected increase means that Tasmanians are diverting these drugs to the illicit market.”


With concerns that these reports have the potential to fuel unnecessary concern, Ms Lai urged the media to avoid using terms such as ‘drugs shame’ or ‘junkies’ when referring to the issue of drug use and dependence in our community.


“The use of terms such as this, particularly when referring to information such as the wastewater reports is careless because shaming people who use drugs only adds to the existing issue of stigma and discrimination for all Tasmanians experiencing issues with their drug use whether they are seeking treatment or not,” Ms Lai said.



Who are the ATDC? The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council is the peak body representing the interests of the community sector organisations that provide services to people with substance use issues in Tasmania. A membership-based, independent organisation, the ATDC advocates for adequate support and funding for the delivery of evidence-based alcohol, tobacco and other drug initiatives.



LANGUAGE MATTERS – Language is powerful, especially when discussing alcohol and other drugs and the people who use them. Stigmatising language reinforces negative stereotypes. “Person-centred” language focuses on the person, not their substance use.



When reporting on people who use alcohol and other drugs….


Try this C Not this D
Substance use, non-prescribed use Abuse, misuse, problem use, non-compliant use
Person who uses drugs Drug user, drug abuser
Person with a dependence on…. Addict, junkie, druggie, alcoholic
Person experiencing drug dependence Suffering from addiction, has a drug habit
Person who has stopped using drugs Clean, sober, drug-free
Person with lived experience of drug dependence Ex-addict, former addict, used to be a…
Please see the Language matters resource at:


Level 1, 175 Collins Street, Hobart 7000
PO Box 4702, Bathurst Street Post Office, Hobart 7000