Poly drug use is common among methamphetamine users, particularly those who use in social contexts where the occasion involves clubs, pubs, dance venues, festivals and rave parties. The majority often use speed and base as the baseline on which to add any one or more of a range of other drugs as they believe that its effect is generally known and consistent. The most common drugs used in conjunction with methamphetamines include ecstasy, cocaine (more prevalent in Sydney), marijuana and alcohol. Other drugs used to a lesser extent include dexamphetamine (dexies), GHB (liquid ecstasy), ketamine and a minority also used LSD.

The mix of illicit drugs used can depend on a number of things. Most often users would be seeking a particular effect to suit the social situation they are in, and will choose from among the range of drugs that they are familiar with to achieve it. For others, poly drug use is simply a matter of availability, that is, what is on offer. The level of drug intoxication also has a role. Often the more intoxicated the user, the more likely they will consider using more or other drugs to maintain an effect. The quotes below provide examples of poly drug use.

"If we're at home we'll usually just smoke ice and have a few drinks, maybe some pot later to sleep."

"Sometimes if you have a bit of K with a pill it enhances it or you have a bit of G with a pill, there's so many different combinations."

"On Saturday night I had everything except cocaine and heroin. I started off smoking Ice, then got to the party and took 5 pills then I had a gram of K and then I had vials of G before I went home."

"If someone offered me speed I would probably take it as well. I can't say I've ever said no to someone offering me drugs."

It should be noted that despite the frequency of poly drug use across methamphetamine users, many had a repertoire of drugs that they would choose from. Also most had a list of drugs that they would not use at all. For example, GHB and ketamine were often considered to be off limits for some, others disliked the hallucinogenic effects of LSD and would never use it, and others would never use marijuana as they believed it made them paranoid. These limitations were sometimes based on their own previous negative experiences on these particular drugs, but at other times were simply due to what they had heard about the effects.

Mixing methamphetamines with prescription drugs and vitamins is also common, particularly among older, more experienced users, or those who are particularly health conscious. This behaviour was particularly common among gay men compared to other target audiences. Prescription drugs, such as Valium, can be used to neutralise the comedown effects of insomnia, anxiety or depression from methamphetamine and other illicit drugs, and vitamins are used to manage health risks and nutrient deficiency:

"I'll wash it down with a few Berocca's or Vitamin C's or Double X which is a nutrition product. I have lots of vitamins. I truly believe that helps."

"The people who tend to snap on the stuff are the people who don't realise I'm depriving myself of calcium and that's an important neuro-transmitter."

Among the Indigenous community, heavy alcohol use was also reportedly combined with methamphetamine use, with claims that some alcohol binges lasted as long as two days. While other target audiences commented that they would sometimes drink more than normal while using methamphetamines, or alternatively that they would use methamphetamines if they were feeling the effects of drinking too much alcohol, this was not suggested to be to the same extent as found among Indigenous users.

In contrast, the most recent findings from the Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS) indicate that patterns of alcohol use among regular ecstasy users, of whom 71% claimed to use some form of methamphetamine, show high rates of risky drinking22. It is highly likely that heavy alcohol use does occur in conjunction with methamphetamines, however, respondents in most target audiences in this research did not report their alcohol consumption as excessive, particularly when discussing poly drug use.

22. Black, E., et al., 2007, ‘An overview of the 2007 EDRS: the regular ecstasy user survey findings. EDRS Bulletin, October 2007, National Drug & Alcohol Centre.