3.1 Parental substance use (drugs)

Substance misuse includes the use of illicit drugs (such as cannabis), pharmaceutical drugs (such as pain-killers, tranquillisers) when used for non-medical purposes (an illicit behaviour), and other substances (such as inhalants) used inappropriately.

Parental substance misuse is a key risk factor for child abuse and neglect. Misuse can compromise parents' ability to consistently provide a stable and safe environment for children, maintain household tasks and routines, and respond to their children’s emotional needs. Financial difficulties can also arise due to substance misuse, compounding the issues faced by the family.

Trend data: For all indicator displays, the yearly trend is limited to indicators with 3 or more years (including the current year) of comparable time series data. To see the trend click on “Yearly Trend” button on the display. Where 3 or more years of comparable data including the most recent year is not available, a “No time series data” message is shown on the display.

The figure shows the proportion of parents with children and young people aged 0–14 who used any illicit drug in the 12 months prior to the AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2010 to 2019. The proportion was 14.5% for 2019.

Source: AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey

See the supplementary data tables for further information and footnotes about these data.

Indicator technical specifications

The information below provides technical specifications for the summary indicator data presented in the quick reference guide.

National Framework Indicator 3.1 Parental substance use (drugs): Proportion of parents with children aged 0-14 years who used any illicit drug within the last 12 months
  Definition Data source
Numerator Proportion of parents with children aged 0-14 years who used any illicit drug in the 12 months prior to the Survey AIHW National Drug Strategy Household Survey
Denominator Number of parents with children aged 0-14 years in the Census 2011 for survey years 2010 and 2013, and the Census 2016 for survey year 2016 ABS Census of Population and Housing

Explanatory notes

Illicit drugs include illegal drugs (such as cannabis, amphetamines, and heroin), pharmaceutical drugs (such as pain-killers, tranquillisers) when used for non-medical purposes (strictly an illicit behaviour), and other substances used inappropriately (such as inhalants). Due to the illegal nature of illicit drugs it is likely that self-reported data underestimate the number of people using these drugs.

Reported usage is based on what drug the person believed they were taking, and it is possible that they may not have known.