Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
1248.0 - Australian Standard Classification of Drugs of Concern, 2011  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/07/2011   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

ADDITIONAL CLASSIFICATIONS

Form of Drug
Method of Drug Use

FORM OF DRUG

As noted in the Overview, the main classification structure of the ASCDC is designed to classify chemical substances which alter physiological processes. However, many collectors and users of data relating to drugs of concern require information on the physical form of a drug as well as on the chemical substance which produces the psychoactive effect. For conceptual and practical reasons, it is not appropriate to include these different elements of drug use in a single classification as this would create an overly complex classification structure.

The Form of Drug classification is intended to be used in conjunction with the main classification structure to address another aspect of information relating to drugs and to assist in creating a coherent statistical framework for the collection, storage and dissemination of data derived from a range of statistical, administrative and service provision settings. It allows data relating to drugs of concern to be further defined without compromising the principles of the main classification structure.

Form of Drug is intuitively defined by reference to the categories of the classification. For instance, the form 'Oil' is readily distinguishable from the form 'Powder' without further definition. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this classification, Form of Drug is defined as:
    'The matter or material of which the drug consists and the mode in which the drug exists or is encountered.'
    Form of Drug describes the outward aspect of the drug. Form of Drug does not indicate the chemical substance which alters physiological processes to produce a psychoactive effect on which the main classification structure is based, nor does it make reference to the method of drug use or the container or receptacle in which the drug is stored, transported or sold.
      The Form of Drug classification was originally adapted from the Drug Form classification presented in the National Illicit Drug Statistics Framework, June 1999, a report produced by the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence and the ABS for the National Community Based Approach to Drug Law Enforcement. It has been modified to include only the physical forms in which drugs are administered, exist or are encountered. It excludes the receptacles in which drugs are stored, transported or sold (e.g. vial/ampoule), with the exception of Capsule and Paper/card-tab/trip. These categories of the classification could be perceived as receptacles in which other forms of drugs are stored either as a liquid, oil or powder for a Capsule and as a liquid for a Paper/card-tab/trip. Additionally, the category Tablet could be perceived as compressed powder. As these forms of drug are generally consumed within the administering process (e.g. swallowed), and accurately describe the mode in which the drug exists or is encountered, they have been included in the classification. 'Crystalline' has not been included in the classification as 'Crystalline' can refer to either a Powder form of crystalline salts or Granule/rock form for those drugs that are a freebase or 'ice like' in appearance.

      The need for and usefulness of the Form of Drug classification can be illustrated by reference to cannabis. In the Type of Drug classification structure all forms of cannabis are included in the category 7101 Cannabinoids, no distinction being made between crops of plants (whole plant), leaf and hashish. Using the Form of Drug classification it is possible to code the different forms of Cannabinoids as follows:

      7101Cannabinoids01Whole plant
      7101Cannabinoids02Leaf
      7101Cannabinoids03Flower-head
      7101Cannabinoids05Seed
      7101Cannabinoids06Resin
      7101Cannabinoids08Oil
      7101Cannabinoids98Part plant-vegetable matter

      The category 98 Part plant-vegetable matter, may not appear to be mutually exclusive of categories 02 Leaf, 03 Flower-head, 04 Root and 05 Seed. Category 98 is used when a drug of concern is encountered (usually cannabis) that consists of or includes more than one single category of the Form of Drug classification covering the parts of a plant (i.e. 02 Leaf and 03 Flower-head). Similarly, 08 Oil has been excluded from the category 07 Liquid. Oils are a group of neutral liquids comprising three main classes: fixed (fatty) acids; mineral oils; and essential oils, of which the last two are associated with drugs of concern.

      The usefulness of the Form of Drug classification is further illustrated by reference to cocaine. Cocaine is generally sold on the street as a crystalline hydrochloride powder, but through a process called 'freebasing' crack cocaine is formed. The two forms are distinguished in the Form of Drug classification as follows:

      3903Cocaine11Powder
      3903Cocaine12Granule/rock (crack)

      Apart from conceptual considerations, separation of the information items (active chemical compound and form of drug) has the advantage of allowing data to be collected and used for the particular item of interest. The ABS therefore recommends that data be collected, coded, and stored for each variable separately. This allows data from organisations which collect both sets of information to be compared with data from organisations which only collect information on one of the variables. Organisations which require drug-related data further defined in terms of the form of the drug can do so by cross tabulating variables.

      The ABS therefore recommends that data be coded and stored in separate fields as follows:

      Drug of Concern XXXX
      Form of DrugXX
      METHOD OF DRUG USE

      Many collectors and users of statistical, administrative and service provision data relating to drugs of concern require information on the method used to administer a drug as well as data on the chemical substance which produces the psychoactive effect of the drug and on the physical form of the drug. For conceptual reasons, it is not possible to include these different elements of drug use in a single classification as this would create an overly complex classification structure.

      In order to meet the need to collect and classify information relating to the method of drug use, the ABS has adopted the classification developed for use in the National Minimum Data Set for Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services, sponsored by the Intergovernmental Committee for Drugs. This classification was originally developed by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) and was included in the National Health Data Dictionary, Version 9 (NHDD), in association with the data element Method of Use for Principal Drug of Concern.

      The Method of Drug Use classification is intended for use in conjunction with the main classification structure to address another aspect of information relating to drugs and to assist in creating a coherent statistical framework for the collection, storage and dissemination of data derived from a range of statistical, administrative and service provision settings. It allows data relating to drugs of concern to be further defined without compromising the principles of the main classification structure.

      Method of Drug Use is intuitively defined by reference to the categories of the classification. For instance, the method 'Injects' is readily distinguishable from the method 'Smokes' without further definition. Nevertheless for the purposes of this classification, Method of Drug Use is defined as:

        'The usual method of administering the drug of concern.'

      Apart from conceptual considerations, separation of the information items (active chemical compound and method of drug use) has the advantage of allowing data to be collected and used for the particular item of interest. The ABS therefore recommends that data be collected, coded, and stored for each variable separately. This allows data from organisations which collect both sets of information to be compared with data from organisations which only collect information on one of the variables. Organisations which require drug-related data further defined in terms of the method of drug use can do so by cross tabulating variables.

      The ABS therefore recommends that data be coded and stored in separate fields as follows:

      Drug of Concern XXXX
      Method of Drug UseX


      Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

      Commonwealth of Australia 2014

      Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.