Between June and September 1998, 10,030 Australians aged 14 years and older participated in the National Drug Strategy Household Survey. This was the sixth survey in a series which commenced in 1985, but was the first to be managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Respondents were asked about their knowledge of drugs, their attitudes towards drugs, their drug consumption histories and related behaviours.
Compared with 1995, there appears to be slightly higher use in 1998 across all illicit drugs groups included in the survey, both in terms of lifetime use (that is, used at any time in one’ life) and recent use (used in the last 12 months). Such consistent changes in lifetime and recent use of tobacco and alcohol were not evident. Young females accounted for a large part of the overall increases in use of illicit substances (notably marijuana/cannabis), and it appears that for some substances female use is now on a par with use by males.
Tobacco was primarily associated with a drug ‘problem’ by fewer than one in twenty Australians; two in every five approved of the regular use of tobacco by adults, and four in every five persons approved of measures designed to reduce the harms associated with tobacco use. Two-thirds of Australians had tried tobacco at some time in their lives, and fewer than one in four were recent smokers. One in seven persons indicated that tobacco was their first drug of choice, and the proportion recently smoking daily or most days declined by two percentage points between 1995 and 1998 to 22%. The average age at which smokers took up tobacco increased from 15.6 to 15.8 years in the same period. Under-age smokers (that is, persons aged under 18, to whom it is illegal to sell tobacco products) were likely to have been introduced to smoking by friends and acquaintances. Subsequently, two out of every five under-age smokers obtained their cigarettes from retail outlets. Of persons aged 40–49 years who had ever smoked, 60% no longer did so.
About one in every seven Australians primarily associated alcohol with a drug ‘problem’ three in every five approved of the regular use of alcohol by adults, and three in every five persons approved of measures designed to reduce the harms associated with alcohol use. Nine out of every ten Australians had tried alcohol at some time in their lives and three quarters recently consumed alcohol. Two in every five persons nominated alcohol as their first drug of choice and the proportion drinking regularly increased from 44% to 49% between 1995 and 1998. One in four persons consumed alcohol daily or on most days in a week, and two in five consumed less often than weekly. Under-age alcohol drinkers (that is persons aged under 18, to whom it is illegal to sell alcohol) were likely to have been introduced to drinking by relatives. Subsequently, almost one in every five under-age drinkers obtained their alcohol from retail outlets. One in six persons admitted to driving a motor vehicle, one in ten verbally abused someone, and one in fifty persons physically abused someone while under the influence of alcohol. Three in every ten persons had been verbally abused and one in every sixteen had been physically abused by someone who had been affected by alcohol.
More than three in every four Australians primarily associated an illicit drug with a drug ‘problem’; one in four approved the regular use of marijuana by adults, and fewer than one in twenty persons approved the regular use of each of the other illicit drugs included in the survey. Almost one in every two Australians had used an illicit drug at some time in their lives and over one in five had used illicit drugs in the previous 12 months. One in every two persons supported measures designed to reduce harm associated with illicit drug use. Around one in fourteen persons nominated any illicit drug as their first drug of choice, with one in eighteen nominating cannabis/marijuana as first choice. The average age at which new users first tried illicit drugs declined slightly from 16.8 years in 1995 to 16.6 years in 1998. Four in every five illicit drug users were introduced to illicit drugs by friends and acquaintances. Subsequently, most illicit drug users continued to obtain their illicit drugs from friends and acquaintances. One in sixteen persons drove a motor vehicle, one in fifty verbally abused someone, and one in two hundred physically abused someone while under the influence of illicit drugs. One in ten persons were verbally abused and one in forty were physically abused by someone affected by illicit drugs.
- The National Drug Strategy
- Drug-related harm
- About the 1998 survey
- Comparisons with 1995 results
- About this report
Overview-the status of drug use in 1998 4
- Lifetime use of drugs
- Drugs recently used (in the last 12 months)
- Age of initiation-lifetime use
- Preferred drugs
- Drugs thought to be associated with a drug 'problem'
- Acceptability of drug use
- Support for the legalisation of illicit drugs
- Nominal distribution of a drugs budget
- Support for increased penalties for the sale or supply of illicit drugs
- Illicit drugs
Community support for drug-related policy
- Illicit drugs
- Perpetrators of drug-related harm
- Victims of drug-related harm
- Response rates
- Estimation procedures
- Reliability of estimates
- Comparability with the 1995 survey
Appendix 1: Membership of survey committees
Appendix 2: Standard errors and relative standard errors
Appendix 3: Population estimates
Appendix 4: Survey-related materials
Appendix 5: The questionnaire
1998 National Drug Strategy Household Survey questionnaire (177K PDF)