How Aussies are drinking, smoking and using drugs

How Aussies are drinking, smoking and using drugs
Almost half of all Australians have used an illicit drug in their lifetime, a just-released government report which details our drug and alcohol use and attitudes has found.
The study, which explored how Aussies aged 14 and over used tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs in 2019, found illegal drug use up but rates of smoking steadily declining.
Other key findings from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019 included a marked rise in people snorting cocaine, a majority of Australians in support of pill testing, fewer teens drinking alcohol dangerously but e-cigarettes gaining in popularity among youth.
In 2019, more than 4 in 10 (43 per cent) people in Australia had illicitly used a drug at some point in their lifetime. The study found 1 in 6 (16.4 per cent) had used one in the last 12 months. (Supplied)
Of all illicit drugs taken in 2019, the sharpest rises proportionally were seen in cocaine and ecstasy use, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found.
The number of Aussies who took cannabis, 11.6 per cent of the population, and hallucinogens, just 1.6 per cent, marginally increased from 2016.
Although Australian cocaine users were a relatively small group, just 4.2 per cent of those surveyed, the frequency with which the narcotics were consumed ramped up.
People who took cocaine at least once a month grew by more than 50 per cent in 2019, up to 16.8 per cent from 10.1 per cent in 2016.
Cocaine and ecstasy were popular drugs of choice with people in major cities and high socioeconomic areas, the study discovered.
Conversely, painkillers and opioids were more common in remote and lower socioeconomic areas.
Surveying lifetime use, 36 per cent of Aussies have used cannabis at least once, ecstasy 12.5 per cent, cocaine 11.2 per cent and hallucinogens 10.5 per cent.
The types illicit drugs different age groups in Australia use. (Supplied)
The number of Australians supporting the legalisation of cannabis has more than doubled since 2007, with 41 per cent of people in 2019 believing the government should legalise it. Almost 10 per cent believed ecstasy should also be legalised in Australia.
While the study found cannabis was easily the most commonly used illicit drug across all ages, the use of other drugs varied.
Unsurprisingly, ecstasy was more common with millennials and Gen Z, while painkillers and opioids were popular with older Australians.
Meth and amphetamines were the fifth most commonly used drug for people between 30 and 50, but the drugs did not feature in the top 5 of Aussies under 30.
Teens showed higher use of inhalants, while people in their 20s had a greater use of hallucinogens than other age groups.
How the use of drugs among Australians has changed over the last 18 years. (Supplied)

Teens today drink differently to in the past

Young Australians are steering away from the heavier and riskier drinking habits of previous generations, the study found.
Two-thirds of 14-17 year olds had never consumed a full standard drink in their life, a significant rise from 28 per cent in 2001.
The proportion of young people who drink alcohol at risky levels – more than four standard drinks per session – fell between 2001 and 2019. This pattern was evident among all age groups under 40.
However, Australians aged over 70 were the most likely to drink daily, with 12.6 per cent falling into this category.
Another significant data point in the study was the growing number of women refusing to drink while pregnant.
In 2019, nearly two-thirds of women did not drink while pregnant, up from 56 per cent in 2016.
More than 1 in 5 Australians said they had been a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2019.
Fewer Australians are smoking daily than ever before. (Supplied)

Smokers dwindling but e-cigarettes popular with young

The number of smokers in Australia continues to dwindle but vaping and e-cigarettes are on the rise – particularly among youth.
Those who smoked e-cigarettes at least once a month more than doubled in the three years between 2016 and 2019, to 7.8 per cent.
Three in 10 smokers admitted they had tried to quit but weren't successful. While the same number, 30 per cent, said they didn't plan on quitting because they enjoyed it.
Perhaps reflecting the heavy financial cost of smoking, the average number of cigarettes smoked each day dropped from 16 in 2010 to 13 in 2019.
The study also found people aged 18 and over who had a mental health condition were twice as likely to smoke daily compared to other people. They were also 1.7 times as likely to have recently used an illicit drug.

Majority of Australians back pill testing

For the first time, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare survey asked respondents about pill testing.
More than half (57 per cent) of Australians supported allowing potential drug users to test their pills and drugs at designated sites, while 1 in 4 (27 per cent) were against.

Do you support pill testing?

Support was higher among people aged 14–39 than those aged 40 and over.
Slightly less than half (47 per cent) of Australians supported supervised drug consumption facilities and rooms.