Societal changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including changes in employment status, available coping strategies (eg, social support from friends and family may be more limited), and availability of drug treatment options have appeared to affect the use of illicit drugs in Australia. The procurement method of choice still appears to be predominantly face-to-face but occurring less frequently, leading to larger quantities of drugs being bought each time which is in line with pandemic restrictions attempting to reduce social contact. Many of the effects of COVID-19 on the drug market, however, may be temporary, and given the lack of government policies or red tape to contend with, the drug market could likely adapt. As a result, factors other than the pandemic may have more influence on changes in demand, drugs of choice, and procurement, including economic factors such as government budgets allocated to drug enforcement.
In conclusion, how people procure and use illicit substances once the pandemic ends and life returns to relative normality still remains to be seen. Like many behaviours that have acclimated to the “new normal”, drug-related behaviours will presumably return to something resembling pre-2020 life. The last two years have clearly shown, though, that where there is drug demand there will be a drug supply, pandemic or not. If societies want to reduce drug-related harm, then changes to legal frameworks based on evidence-based harm reduction health research are needed, with politics removed from the equation.