Latest findings from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey


The National Drug Strategy Household Survey is conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Wellbeing every three years. The latest survey was conducted in 2016, from July to November. The Survey collected information from almost 24,000 Australians aged 14 years and over about their use of, and opinions about: alcohol; tobacco; and illicit drugs.

The latest Survey has found improvements in the alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use of young people, but little to no change in the drug use of older adults, with their use of some drugs increasing since 2013.  

Key findings from the survey:

Alcohol use

  • Compared to 2013, fewer people in Australia drank alcohol in quantities that exceeded the lifetime risk guidelines in 2016 (17.1%, down from 18.2% in 2013). But there was no change in the proportion exceeding the single occasion risk guideline.
  • Young adults were drinking less—a significantly lower proportion of 18–24 year olds consumed 5 or more standard drinks on a monthly basis (from 47% in 2013 to 42% in 2016).
  • Fewer 12–17 year olds were drinking alcohol and the proportion abstaining from alcohol significantly increased from 2013 to 2016 (from 72% to 82%).
  • However, more people in their 50s were consuming 11 or more standard drinks in one drinking occasion in 2016 than in 2013.

Illicit drug use

  • Declines were seen in recent use of some illegal drugs in 2016 including meth/amphetamines (from 2.1% to 1.4%), hallucinogens (1.3% to 1.0%), and synthetic cannabinoids (1.2% to 0.3%).
  • Overall, the most common recently used drugs were cannabis (10%), misuse of pharmaceuticals (5%), cocaine (3%), and ecstasy (2%).
  • The report shows that younger age groups (under 40) are less likely to have recently used illicit drugs than in the past, while those over 40 are more likely – up from 14% in 2013 to 16% in 2016.
  • People's perceptions of meth/amphetamines changed considerably between 2013 and 2016. Australians now consider meth/amphetamines to be more of concern than any other drug (including alcohol) and a greater number thought of it as the drug that caused the most deaths in Australia. For the first time, meth/amphetamines was the drug most likely to be nominated as a drug problem.

Tobacco smoking

  • 12.2% of people aged 14 or over were daily smokers in 2016. While smoking rates have been on a long-term downward trend, for the first time in over two decades, the daily smoking rate did not significantly decline over the most recent 3 year period (2013 to 2016).

For the key findings see the full report.

A more detailed report into the Survey's findings will be released later in 2017. Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

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