The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey
The 2007 National Drug Strategy Household Survey was conducted between July and November 2007. This was the ninth survey in a series which commenced in 1985, and was the fourth to be managed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Almost 25,000 Australians aged 12 years or older participated in the survey, in which they were asked about their knowledge of and attitudes towards drugs, their drug consumption histories, and related behaviours. Most of the analyses in this report are based on the population aged 14 years or older, as this allows consistent comparison with earlier survey results.
Nearly half (44.6%) of Australians aged 14 years or older had smoked 100 or more cigarettes or the equivalent amount of tobacco at some time in their lives, but less than one in five (19.4%) had smoked in the last 12 months. The proportion of the population aged 14 years or older who smoked daily declined by nearly one percentage point between 2004 and 2007, from 17.4% to 16.6%. However, the average age at which smokers took up tobacco remained stable at a little less than 16 years. Tobacco was thought to be associated with a drug ‘problem’ by 2.6% of Australians aged 14 years or older and 14.3% approved the regular use of tobacco by adults; a further 22.5% neither approved or disapproved. Tobacco was the second most accessible drug: one in every two Australians aged 14 years or older (49.2%) was offered or had the opportunity to use tobacco in the last 12 months. Daily smokers were more likely than other recent smokers or non-smokers to report high or very high levels of psychological distress.
Nine out of every ten Australians aged 14 years or older (89.9%) had tried alcohol at some time in their lives and 82.9% had consumed alcohol in the 12 months preceding the 2007 survey. The proportion of the population drinking daily fell significantly (from 8.9% to 8.1%) between 2004 and 2007 whereas the average age at which people had their first full serve of alcohol (17 years of age) remained stable. The proportion of teenagers drinking at least weekly was around 22%. One in eight people (12.1%) admitted to driving a motor vehicle and one in 17 (5.7%) admitted to verbally abusing someone while under the influence of alcohol. One-quarter (25.4%) of Australians aged 14 years or older had been verbally abused and 4.5% had been physically abused by someone under the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol was thought to be associated with a drug ‘problem’ by one in ten Australians (10.5%) aged 14 years or older, whereas 45.2% approved (and a further 33.8% did not oppose) the regular use of alcohol by adults. Alcohol was the most accessible drug: nine in ten Australians aged 14 years or older (89.3%) were offered or had the opportunity to use alcohol in the last 12 months. High-risk and risky drinkers were more likely than low-risk drinkers or abstainers to experience high or very high levels of psychological distress.
Almost two in every five Australians (38.1%), aged 14 years or older, had used an illicit drug at some time in their lives and more than one in seven (13.4%) had used illicit drugs in the previous 12 months. The most commonly-reported illicit drug used in the previous 12 months was marijuana/cannabis (9.1% of people aged 14 years or older), followed by ecstasy (3.5%), pain killers/analgesics used for non-medical purposes (2.5%) and meth/amphetamine (which includes ‘ice’) (2.3%). Between 2004 and 2007, there was a significant fall in the proportion of the population aged 14 years or older who had used an illicit drug in the past 12 months, from 15.3% to 13.4%.
Recent marijuana/cannabis use, in particular, had dropped significantly between 2004 and 2007, from 11.3% to 9.1%. Recent use also declined for meth/amphetamine but increased for cocaine.
The average age at which new users first tried illicit drugs remained close to 19 years of age. The most accessible illicit drugs were marijuana/cannabis and painkillers/analgesics— 17.1% and 15.4% of the population respectively were offered or had the opportunity to use these drugs for non-medical purposes, in the previous 12 months. Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of illicit drugs was reported by 2.9% of Australians aged 14 years or older. One in nine persons (11.0%) was verbally abused and one in 50 (2.0%) was physically abused by someone affected by illicit drugs.
Not quite nine in every ten Australians aged 14 years or older (85.2%) primarily associated an illicit drug with a drug ‘problem’, which was largely unchanged between 2004 and 2007. By contrast, the proportion of those who associated meth/amphetamine with a problem trebled between 2004 and 2007 from 5.5% to 16.4%. Together, the perception of marijuana/cannabis and heroin as ‘problem’ drugs declined by a similar amount. The proportion of Australians approving the regular use of illicit drugs was generally low. However, more than 1 in 5 either approved or ‘neither approved nor disapproved’ (6.6% and 16.6% respectively) the regular use of marijuana/cannabis by adults. Similar proportions approved (10.4%) or ‘neither approved nor disapproved’ (13.3%) the illicit use of painkillers/ analgesics.
Of Australians aged 18 years or older , more than one in five persons (20.2%) who used an illicit drug in the previous month reported high or very high levels of psychological distress; more than twice the proportion (8.7%) of those who had not used an illicit drug in the same period.
Preliminary material (82KB PDF): Foreword; Abbreviations, symbols and definitions
- The National Drug Strategy
- Drug-related costs
- About the 2007 survey
- About this report
- Drugs recently used (in the last 12 months)
- Drugs ever used Age of initiation-ever used
- Availability of drugs
- Drugs thought to be associated with a drug 'problem'
- Acceptability of drug use
- Support for the legalisation of illicit drugs
- Support for increased penalties for the sale or supply of illicit drugs
- Nominal distribution of a drugs budget
- Illicit drugs
- Perpetrators of drug-related harm
- Victims of drug-related harm
- Psychological distress and patterns of drug use
- Estimation procedures
- Response rates
- Reliability of estimates
- Comparability with previous surveys