40% of Australians smoke, drink too much alcohol or use illicit drugs

In 2013, over 40% of Australians smoked daily, drank alcohol in ways that put them at risk of harm or used an illicit drug in the previous 12 months, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report: 2013 builds on key findings from the survey (released online in July 2014), presenting more detailed analysis, including comparisons between population groups and states and territories.

It shows that there is often a relationship between daily smoking, risky drinking and recent illicit drug use, with almost 11% of Australians reporting 2 or more of these risky behaviours and about 3% of engaged in all 3 behaviours.

'Half (49%) of daily smokers had consumed alcohol at risky quantities, (either more than 2 standard drinks a day on average or more than 4 on a single occasion at least once a month),' said AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck.

'Over one-third (37%) of daily smokers had used an illicit drug in the previous 12 months, 60% of recent illicit drug users also drank alcohol in risky quantities and 31% smoked daily.'

'Our report shows certain groups also disproportionately experience some drug-related risks,' Mr Neideck said.

'People in the lowest socioeconomic status groups, unemployed people and Indigenous Australians continue to be more likely to smoke daily than other population groups.'

Daily tobacco smoking and risky drinking also rose with increasing remoteness, and the overall decline in daily smoking rates between 2010 and 2013 was only significant for people living in Major cities. People living in Remote and Very Remote areas were twice as likely to have used methamphetamines in 2013 as people in non-remote areas.

The drug-use patterns seen nationally were generally reflected in the states and territories.

There were statistically significant declines in daily tobacco smoking in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia, while the proportion of daily smokers in the Northern Territory (22%) was more than double the proportion in the ACT (9.9%).

'Patterns of risky drinking varied across jurisdictions, for example, people in the Northern Territory and Western Australia were more likely to consume alcohol in quantities that placed them at risk of an alcohol-related disease, illness or injury,' Mr Neideck said.

Similar to the national trend, there were no significant changes in illicit drug use broadly for any jurisdiction. Use of specific illicit drug types varied between jurisdictions.

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey is conducted every 2–3 years. The 2013 survey collected data from 24,000 people across Australia from 31 July to 1 December 2013.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.


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