Understanding Australia’s drinking and drug habits…

The article was originally posted on LinkedIn by Barry Sandison, AIHW CEO.

While the year has largely (and understandably) been focused on the bushfire crisis and COVID-19 pandemic, I’d like to highlight a silent issue that Australians and the global community continue to face—the problematic use of drugs and alcohol.

As community and family members, friends and colleagues, we know that the problematic use of drugs and alcohol remains one of the most pressing health, social and economic issues facing young Australians.

For that reason, we need to look at the deeper, underlying issues relating to drug and alcohol use, which cross the line between ‘health’ and ‘welfare’: mental health, family and domestic violence, general community wellbeing etc.

Today’s results from the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which precede the 2019-20 summer bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, can help us do just that. With over 22,000 participants aged 14 and over, the wealth of information and data help us to better understand how Australians’ behaviour and attitudes towards alcohol, tobacco and other illicit drug consumption have changed over time.

Since the survey’s inception in 1985, we’ve made significant progress in filling data gaps—and we’ve included new information on timely issues like the changing attitudes around the legalisation of cannabis.

The survey forms part of the Australian Government’s National Drug Strategy, which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Australians.

We hope that our contribution will enable researchers and policymakers collaborate to do just that, by using the results to better understand the issues around drugs and alcohol—for society and future generations.

Congratulations to all the teams involved in producing a significant and impactful resource.

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