Do Australians consider pharmaceuticals to be the drugs of most serious concern to the community?

When Australians were asked which form of drug use they thought was of most serious concern for the general community, 2% chose the non-medical use of pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids, and 0.5% chose the non-medical use of methadone/buprenorphine. A larger proportion (40%) thought that meth/amphetamine (for non-medical purposes) was the drug of most serious concern.

In 2016, when Australians were asked which form of drug use they thought was of most serious concern to the general community, 40% chose meth/amphetamine (for non-medical purposes), 28% excessive drinking of alcohol, 9% tobacco smoking, 8% heroin, 5% ecstasy, 3% cannabis, 3% cocaine, 2% pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids (for non-medical purposes), 0.5% methadone/buprenorphine (for non-medical purposes), 0.3% steroids (for non-medical purposes), and 1% none of these drugs.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

Please note: For the purpose of this FAQ, pharmaceutical drugs refer to the non-medical use of pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids (e.g. morphine, panadeine forte, nurofen plus), and the non-medical use of methadone/buprenorphine.

Non-medical use: Drugs 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.