4727.0.55.001 - Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012-13  
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Contents >> Health risk factors >> Illicit substance use

ILLICIT SUBSTANCE USE

Illicit drug use is a significant risk factor in the development of mental disorders. The 2003 Australian Burden of Disease Study estimated that in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, one-third of the burden of disease and injury due to mental disorders was attributable to illicit drugs (Endnote 1).

RESULTS FROM 2012–13

In 2012–13, just over one in five (22%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over said that they had used an illicit substance in the previous year, and a further 23% at some other time in their life. Males were significantly more likely than females to have used an illicit substance in the previous year (27% compared with 18%), and before then (25% compared with 21%).

Marijuana was the most commonly reported illicit drug, having been used by one in five (19%) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over in the previous year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males were significantly more likely than females to have used marijuana is the previous year (24% compared with 14%).

Rates of recent illicit substance use were fairly consistent for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in age groups 15–24 years (28%), 25–34 years (27%) and 35–44 years (23%), before decreasing to 19% of those aged 45–54 years and 7% of those aged 55 years and over.

ILLICIT SUBSTANCE USE BY AGE,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people—2012–13

Graph:Illicit Substance Use by Age



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in non-remote areas were more likely than those in remote areas to have used an illicit substance in the previous year (23% compared with 19%) or earlier in their life (24% compared with 17%). Almost two-thirds (63%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote areas said they had never used an illicit substance, compared with just under half (49%) of those in non-remote areas.

ILLICIT SUBSTANCE USE BY REMOTENESS,
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people(a)—2012–13

Graph:Illicit Substance Use by Remoteness

CHANGE OVER TIME

Information on illicit substance use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over was not collected at the national level in the 2004–05 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey.

HOW DO THESE RATES COMPARE WITH THE RATES FOR NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLE?

Data about illicit substance use are not collected in the Australian Health Survey.


ENDNOTE

1. Vos T, Barker B, Stanley L, Lopez AD 2007. The Burden of Disease and Injury in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 2003, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane.


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