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The majority of Australians support policies aimed at reducing alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use, and are also making efforts to kick their own drug habits, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings report shows that most Australians support reduction policies for alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs, and that there is very little support for the legalisation of illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy.

Alcohol was the drug considered to be of most serious concern to the community, while heroin remained the drug most associated with a 'drug problem' in Australia.

'There is evidence that Australians are modifying their behaviours in line with their attitudes, said Dr Paul Meyer from the AIHW's Drug Surveys and Services Unit.'

'While 1 in 5 people consumed alcohol once a month or more at levels that put them at risk of harm in the short term, half of all recent drinkers had undertaken at least some alcohol moderation behaviour, mostly for health reasons.'

'And while daily smoking rates fell from 1 in 4 people in 1993 to 1 in 6 in 2007, our new report shows that even among those still smoking in 2007, nearly one-third had reduced their consumption.'

'Reductions are also the name of the game when it comes to recent use of marijuana - down to 9.1% from around 13% in most previous surveys. And meth/amphetamine use, including 'ice', has also come down - to 2.3% in 2007 from 3.2% in 2004', Dr Meyer said.

Cocaine and non-medical uses of tranquillisers and sleeping pills were the only two drugs for which statistically significant increases in use were recorded since the previous survey.

The AIHW report shows an association between higher rates of drug use and self-reported poor health.

It also shows that recent drinkers or illicit drug users are more likely than non-users or non-drinkers to be the victims of drug-related incidents, even though most victims had not been drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs when the incident occurred.

The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey was conducted between July and November 2007, and included over 23,000 Australians aged 12 years or older. The Detailed findings report follows the First results report and State and Territory comparisons tables released earlier this year.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Further information: Dr Paul Meyer, AIHW, 02 6244 1186; mob. 0400 344 572.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1032.

Availability: Check the AIHW Publications area for the availability of the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings report.