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Overall, the pattern of recent licit and illicit drug use (in the last 12 months) among people in Australia aged 14 years or older in 2010 was similar to previous years, with alcohol and tobacco being more commonly used than illicit drugs and cannabis being the most commonly used among the illicit drugs. However, the proportions using many of the different types of drugs have changed over time.

  • The proportion of people who had smoked tobacco in the previous 12 months has steadily declined from 29.1% in 1993 to 18.1% in 2010.
  • The proportion of people who reported drinking alcohol recently in 2010 (80.5%) has continued to decline from a peak in 2004, but was still higher than in 1993 (77.9%).
  • Recent use of cannabis increased (from 9.1% in 2007 to 10.3%), but has declined in the longer term (from 12.7% in 1993).
  • Other illicit drugs where use has increased since 2007 were cocaine, hallucinogens and inhalants. In the longer term, cocaine use was 4 times as high as in 1993, while use of hallucinogens and inhalants has returned to 1993 levels, having peaked in 1998, and dropped in 2004 and 2007.
  • Recent use of ecstasy was lower in 2010 than in 2007, after increasing steadily since 1995.
Summary of recent drug use: proportion of the population aged 14 years or older, Australia, 1993 to 2010
Drug/behaviour 1993 1995 1998 2001 2004 2007 2010
Tobacco 29.1 27.2 24.9 23.2 20.7 19.4 18.1
Alcohol 77.9 78.3 80.7 82.4 83.6 82.9 80.5
Illicit drugs (excluding pharmaceuticals)
Cannabis 12.7 13.1 17.9 12.9 11.3 9.1 10.3
Ecstasy(b) 1.2 0.9 2.4 2.9 3.4 3.5 3.0
Meth/amphetamines(c) 2.0 2.1 3.7 3.4 3.2 2.3 2.1
Cocaine 0.5 1.0 1.4 1.3 1.0 1.6 2.1
Hallucinogens 1.3 1.9 3.0 1.1 0.7 0.6 1.4
Inhalants 0.6 0.4 0.9 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.6
Heroin 0.2 0.4 0.8 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.2
Ketamine n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.3 0.2 0.2
GHB n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.1 0.1 0.1
Injectable drugs 0.5 0.5 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.5 0.4
Any illicit(d)excluding pharmaceuticals 13.7 14.2 19.0 14.2 12.6 10.9 12.0
Pharmaceuticals
Pain-killers/analgesics(c) 1.7 3.4 5.2 3.1 3.1 2.5 3.0
Tranquillisers/sleeping pills(c) 0.9 0.7 3.0 1.1 1.0 1.4 1.5
Steroids(c) 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.1
Methadone(e) or buprenorphine(f) n.a. n.a. 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2
Other opiates/opioids(c) n.a. n.a. n.a. 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.4
Any pharmaceutical(g) n.a. 4.1 6.3 3.9 3.8 3.7 4.2
Any illicit(d)(g) 14.0 16.7 22.0 16.7 15.3 13.4 14.7
None of the above 21.0 17.8 14.2 14.7 13.7 14.1 16.6

a. Used in the previous 12 months. For tobacco and alcohol 'recent use' means daily, weekly and less than weekly smokers and drinkers.
b. Included 'designer drugs' before 2004.
c. For non-medical purposes.
d. Did not include GHB and Ketamine from 1993 to 2001.
e. Non-maintenance.
f. Did not include buprenorphine before 2007.
g. Included barbiturates up until 2007; did not include methadone in 1993 and 1995; did not include other opiates from 1993 to 1998.

Note: some trend data were updated in 2010.
Source: 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey  

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