The latest finding regarding illicit drugs and Australians

  1. Harms from illicit drugs affect all Australian communities, families and individuals, either directly or indirectly. These include illnesses and injuries, mental health and trauma, and health care and other financial costs (DoH 2017).

    In 2015, illicit drug use contributed to 2.7% of the total burden of disease and injury (AIHW 2019c). In 2018, 1,740 deaths were directly attributable to drug use, and opioids were present in nearly two-thirds of these deaths (64.5% or 1,123 deaths).

    Quick Facts:

    1. In 2019, an increase in recent use was reported for a number of illicit drugs, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, hallucinogens, inhalants and ketamine.
  2. 2. The average (mean) age 14–29 year olds first tried an illicit drug increased between 2016 and 2019 for cannabis, ecstasy, inhalants, pain-killers/opioids and tranquillisers.

    3. Use of pain-killers and opioids for non-medical purposes and use of emerging psychoactive substances decreased between 2016 and 2019

    4. For the first time since 2001, males in their 20s reported an increase in recent illicit drug use (excluding pharmaceuticals) (from 29% in 2016 to 34% in 2019), largely driven by increases in cocaine and ecstasy.

    5. Use of illicit drugs continued to increase among older age groups, driven by the highest levels of cannabis use since 2001.

    6. Meth/amphetamine use has been declining since it peaked at 3.4% in 2001 and stabilised in 2019 (1.4% in 2016 and 1.3% in 2019) but crystal/ice continues to be the main form used and was used more frequently than drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy.

    7. Most people first try illicit drugs out of curiosity (69%) and of those who continue using illicit drugs, they do so because they enjoy it (71%).

    8. More people were victims of an illicit drug-related incident in 2019 with the proportion of people reporting that they were verbally abused, physically abused or put in fear all increasing since 2016—any incident increased from 9.2% to 10.5%.

    9. Among people who used hallucinogens in the previous 12 months, frequency of use increased between 2016 and 2019—at least monthly use (from 3.0% to 10.3%) and use every few months increased (from 21% to 34%).

    10. People using cocaine in the previous 12 months has been increasing since 2004, from 1.0% to 4.2% in 2019, and is at its highest level over the last 18 years for all adult groups.