• Print

released: 18 Dec 2008 author: AIHW media release

This report extends the analysis presented in the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: first results by providing more detailed information on drug use prevalence, drug-related behaviours and incidents, and support for drug-related policy and legislation. This report, along with others in the Drug Statistics Series, will be a useful resource for policy-makers, planners and researchers interested in drug-related matters.

ISSN 1442-7230; ISBN 978 1 74024 870 9; Cat. no. PHE 107; 146pp.; Internet Only

Key Findings

This report of the 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, Detailed Findings, describes the use of licit and illicit drugs and the perceptions and attitudes associated with them. Results in the Key Findings are presented for those aged 14 years or older.

Tobacco and alcohol use

(Chapters 4 and 5)

  • Of 17.2 million Australians, one in six smoked daily, a decline from one in four in 1993. Among daily smokers, almost one third had reduced the amount smoked in a day, and one-quarter had tried unsuccessfully to give up smoking.
  • Lower socioeconomic status appeared to be related to higher levels of smoking. Smoking rates were also higher in rural and remote areas and among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • The majority of Australians had consumed at least one glass of alcohol in the previous 12 months. One in ten consumed alcohol at levels consider to be harmful in the long term, and one in five consumed alcohol once a month or more at levels considered to be harmful in the short term. These measures of alcohol consumption have been relatively stable since 2001.
  • The vast majority of recent drinkers had undertaken at least some alcohol moderation behaviour. The main reason chosen was for health reasons.
  • People living in Remote or Very Remote areas were more likely to drink at risky or high-risk levels than those living in other areas. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples were more likely than other Australians to abstain from drinking alcohol, but those who did drink were more likely to drink at risky or high-risk levels for short-term harm.

Illicit drug use

(Chapters 6 to 16)

  • The proportion of the Australian population using illicit drugs continued to decline, with approximately one in seven (13.4%) saying they used at least one illicit drug in 2007.
  • Marijuana/cannabis, at 9.1%, was the illicit drug most commonly used in the past 12 months, showing a decline from around 13% in most previous surveys. Ecstasy was the second most common, used by an estimated 3.5% of the population (unchanged from 2004), and more prevalent than meth/amphetamine (which includes 'ice') at 2.3%, down from 3.2% in 2004.
  • Significant increases were recorded for two drugs in 2007 compared with 2004: cocaine (from 1.0% to 1.6%), and tranquillisers/sleeping pills used for non medical purposes (from 1.0% to 1.4%).
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were more likely than other Australians to have used an illicit drug in the previous 12 months.

Attitudes, opinions and policy support

(Chapters 2, 3, 18 and 19)

  • Heroin remained the drug most associated with a 'drug problem' in Australia in 2007; however, the drug considered of most serious concern to the community was alcohol.
  • Two-fifths of people accurately identified tobacco as the drug that caused the most deaths in Australia.
  • Alcohol and tobacco were the drugs most available to Australians. The acceptance of the offer or opportunity to use drugs was greatest for alcohol and lowest for inhalants.
  • The majority of Australians support policies aimed at reducing the acceptance and use of drugs, and the harms resulting from drug use. Broadly speaking, there was greater support for education and law enforcement measures than treatment measures.
  • There was very little support for the legalisation of illicit drugs. The most favoured single action for someone found in possession of illicit drugs was referral to treatment or education.

Drug-related health and harm

(Chapters 17 and 20)

  • In general, higher rates of drug use were related to poorer health status and higher levels of psychological distress. However, it is unclear what other factors (such as age, sex or socioeconomic status) may be influencing these relationships.
  • Smokers were more likely to report fair or poor health than non-smokers (18.2% compared with 10.7%).
  • Those consuming alcohol at high-risk levels of harm, in both the short- and long-term, were more likely to report fair or poor levels of health than were risky or low-risk drinkers. However, abstainers also reported higher proportions of fair or poor health compared with risky or low-risk drinkers.
  • Those who had used marijuana in the previous 12 months reported similar levels of fair or poor health compared with those who had not used marijuana in the previous 12 months (both approximately 12%).
  • Recent drinkers and recent illicit drug users were more likely than non-drinkers or non-users respectively to be victims of drug-related incidents. However, the majority of victims had not been drinking alcohol or using drugs other than alcohol when the incident occurred.

Summary table

A summary of drug use patterns is provided in Table K.1, overleaf.[sic]

Table K.1: Summary of drug use patterns in Australia, proportion of the population aged 14 years or older, 2007
Drug Drug of most serious concern(a) % Ever used % Age of initiation(b) years Recent(c) offer or opportunity to use % Recent use(c): Persons % Recent use(c): Change from 2004(d) Recent use(c): Males % Recent use(c): 14-19 years % Recent use(c): 20-29 years % Monthly or more(e) % Most common source of supply % Used with alcohol(f) %
Tobacco 17.2 44.6 15.8 49.2 19.4 21.2 9.8 26.8 16.6 Not reported Not asked
Alcohol 32.3 89.9 17.0 89.3 82.9 86.0 71.0 87.1 8.1 Not reported Not asked
Marijuana/cannabis 5.7 33.5 18.8 17.1 9.1 11.6 12.9 20.8 47.1 Friend/acq.: 68.5 87.3
Pharmaceuticals(g) 1.4 7.0 Not reported 17.8 3.6 Not reported 3.6 2.8 5.4 49.7 Not reported 30.9
Inhalants 1.4 3.1 19.3 3.2 0.4 0.6 1.1 0.7 44.3 Buy at shop: 41.0 46.4
Heroin 10.5 1.6 21.9 0.9 0.2 0.3 0.3 2.0 Not reported Friend/acq.: 29.1 39.5
Meth/amphetamine(g) 16.4 6.3 20.9 4.9 2.3 3.0 1.6 7.3 35.7 Friend/acq.: 65.9 80.8
Cocaine 8.3 5.9 23.1 3.9 1.6 2.2 1.1 5.1 18.9 Friend/acq.: 74.4 86.9
Hallucinogens 0.5 6.7 19.6 2.4 0.6 0.9 1.2 2.1 17.5 Friend/acq.: 56.3 65.1
Ecstasy(h) 6.0 8.9 22.6 8.1 3.5 4.4 5.0 11.2 25.0 Friend/acq.: 72.2 85.4
  1. For alcohol, respondents were asked about 'Excessive drinking of alcohol'. For inhalants, respondents were asked about 'Sniffing glue, petrol, solvents and rush'.
  2. Age at which the person first used the drug.
  3. In the previous 12 months.
  4. Significant difference between 2004 and 2007.
  5. Base equals recent users, percentage that used at least once a month, except for tobacco and alcohol where 'at least daily' use is presented.
  6. Use at the same time on at least one occasion.
  7. For non-medical purposes.
  8. Included 'Designer drugs' prior to 2004.

Recommended citation

AIHW 2008. 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: detailed findings. Drug statistics series no. 22. Cat. no. PHE 107. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 31 October 2014 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442468195>.