4715.0 - National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2018-19 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 11/12/2019   
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Substance use


The use of substances for non-medical purposes can lead to health problems including heart disease, liver problems, blood-borne viruses (like hepatitis and HIV), and mental health problems, as well as accidents or injuries leading to hospitalisation or death [1].

More than one-quarter (28%) of people aged 15 years and over had used substances for non-medical purposes in the previous year [2], up from 22% in 2012–13 [3].

The proportion of people who had used substances was:

    • higher for males (37%) than females (21%)
    • about the same for people living in non-remote areas (29%) and remote areas (27%)
    • higher for younger people aged 15–29 years (33%) and 30–44 years (31%) compared with those aged 45 years and over (21%).


Substance use in the last 12 months(a), by age

Graph shows about three in 10 people aged 15–29 years (33%) and 30–44 years (31%) reported they had used substances, compared with about two in 10 people aged 45 years and over (21%).

(a) As a proportion of total persons who accepted the substance use questions. (b) The difference between people aged 15–29 years and 30–44 years is not statistically significant.

Source(s): 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey


Marijuana was the most commonly reported substance used by people aged 15 years and over. In the previous year:
    • around one-quarter (24%) of people had used it
    • more males (31%) than females (18%) had used it
    • the proportion of people living in non-remote (24%) and remote areas (25%) who had used it was about the same.


Use of selected substances in the last 12 months(a)(b) — people aged 15 years and over

Graph shows marijuana was the most common substance used (23%), followed by analgesics/sedatives, amphetamines and ecstasy (about 4% each).
    (a) As a proportion of total persons who accepted the substance use questions. (b) Sum of components may exceed total as the same person may have reported having used more than one substance. (c) The differences between analgesics/sedatives, amphetamines, and ecstasy/designer drugs are not statistically significant.

    Source(s): 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey


    The most common age group(s) for people who had used each substance varied.
      • For marijuana, it was 15–29 years (29%) and 30–44 years (25%).
      • For amphetamines, it was 30–44 years (7%).
      • For analgesics/sedatives, there was no significant difference by age group.


    Footnotes
    1. Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet, Illicit Drugs — General, < https://aodknowledgecentre.ecu.edu.au/learn/specific-drugs/illicit-drugs-general/>, last accessed 19/11/2019.
    2. Around 12% of people chose not to answer the substance use questions and have been excluded from the results in this section.
    3. Sourced from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First Results, Australia, 2012–13 (cat. no. 4727.0.55.001).