According to preliminary results from the 1998 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, our perceptions about drugs are changing. In 1998, more people primarily associated heroin with a drug 'problem' than in 1995. Conversely, the percentage of people who primarily associated marijuana/cannabis with a drug 'problem' fell from 32% to 21%.
But the most commonly used drug in Australia is still alcohol - in 1998 over 80% of people aged 14 and over had used it in the past 12 months, and 49% consume it regularly, up from 44% in 1995. More than two-thirds of 14-19 year olds consume dangerous levels of alcohol when they drink.
In 1998, 22% of the adult population were regular tobacco smokers, down from 24% in 1995. The highest prevalence of regular smoking in 1998 was among 20-29 year olds (males 31% and females 30%).
The main findings from the first in a series of publications about tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use and its health impact in Australia are given in the attachments.
The first of the publications being prepared will present the results of the 1998 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, and the second will present an analysis of data on deaths and hospital episodes, updating available estimates of mortality and morbidity attributable to drug use.
31 March 1999
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