Do Australians approve or disapprove of the personal use of pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes?

The majority of Australians disapprove of the personal use of pharmaceutical drug† for non-medical purposes, particularly methadone/buprenorphine. 

9% of Australians approve of the non-medical use of tranquillisers/sleeping pills; 22% neither approve nor disapprove; 64% disapprove; and 6% don’t know enough to say. 12% of Australians approve of the non-medical use of prescription pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids; 18% neither approve nor disapprove; 65% disapprove; and 5% don’t know enough to say. 18% of Australians approve of the non-medical use of over-the-counter pain-killers/pain relievers/opioids; 21% neither approve nor disapprove; 56% disapprove; and 5% don’t know enough to say. 1% of Australians approve of the non-medical use of methadone/buprenorphine; 6% neither approve nor disapprove; 82% disapprove; and 11% don’t know enough to say.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2019).

† This FAQ uses data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which defines the pharmaceutical drugs referred to in this question as: the non-medical use of: tranquillisers/sleeping pills, prescription pain-killers/pain relievers/opioids (e.g. oxycodone, panadeine forte, morphine), over-the-counter pain-killers/pain relievers/opioids (e.g. a codeine product such as nurofen plus), and methadone/buprenorphine.

Please note: Data presented here differ from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey report, due to different analysis methodologies. The AIHW analysis excluded the “don’t know enough to say” category, thus changing the proportions in the remaining response categories.

Non-medical use: A drug used:

  • By itself to induce a drug experience or feeling; or
  • With other drugs in order to enhance a drug experience.

Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.