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The use of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs is associated with increased risks of preventable disease, injury and mortality. Harmful use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs is a significant public health concern in Australia, as are its considerable impacts on economic and social participation. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) collects information on alcohol and tobacco consumption, and illicit drug use among the general population in Australia. It also surveys people’s attitudes and perceptions relating to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Survey findings relate mainly to people aged 14 years or older.

2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey

National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report 2013

Highlights from the 2013 survey

graphic for tobacco smoking

Tobacco smoking

  • Daily smoking declined significantly between 2010 and 2013 (from 15.1% to 12.8%). Daily smoking rates have almost halved since 1991 (24.3%).
  • Younger people are delaying the take up of smoking—the age at which 14–24-year-olds smoked their first full cigarette increased from 14.2 in 1995 to 15.9 years in 2013.
  • Smokers reduced the average number of cigarettes smoked per week; from 111 cigarettes in 2010 to 96 in 2013.

graphic for alcohol use

Alcohol use

  • Compared to 2010, fewer people in Australia drank alcohol in quantities that exceeded the lifetime risk and single occasion risk guidelines in 2013.
  • Fewer 12–17 year olds are drinking alcohol and the proportion abstaining from alcohol increased significantly between 2010 and 2013 (from 64% to 72%).
  • Almost 5 million people in Australia aged 14 or older (26%) reported being a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2013 but the proportion declined from 29% in 2010.

graphic for Illicit use of drugs

Illicit use of drugs

  • Declines were seen in use of some illegal drugs including ecstasy (from 3.0% to 2.5%), heroin (from 0.2% to 0.1%) and GHB (from 0.1% to less than 0.1%) in 2013 but the misuse of pharmaceuticals increased (from 4.2% in 2010 to 4.7% in 2013).
  • While there was no significant increase in meth/amphetamine use in 2013, there was a change in the main form of meth/amphetamine used. Use of powder decreased significantly from 51% to 29% while the use of ice (or crystal methamphetamine) more than doubled, from 22% in 2010 to 50% in 2013.

The survey

The NDSHS has been conducted every 2 to 3 years since 1985. The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey collected data from nearly 24,000 people across Australia. The survey was conducted from 31 July to 1 December 2013. Roy Morgan Research was commissioned to conduct the survey fieldwork.

A more detailed report on the findings from the survey is National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report: 2013.