Are unemployed men or women in Australian more likely to have used pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months?

Unemployed men in Australia are more likely to have used pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months than unemployed women.

7%* of unemployed Australian men have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months, 2%* have used tranquillisers/sleeping pills, 0.4%** have used methadone/buprenorphine, and 8% have used pharmaceutical drugs. 4% of unemployed Australian women have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months, 0.9%* have used tranquillisers/sleeping pills, and 0.1%** have used methadone/buprenorphine, and 4% have used pharmaceutical drugs. * Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution. ** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

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 medical or non-medical use of pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids (panadeine forte, nurofen plus, mersyndol, disprin forte, morphine and oxycodone (excluding paracetamol, asprin and ibuprofen where these drugs are the only active ingredients)), tranquillisers/sleeping pills (e.g., sleepers, benzos, tranks, temazzies, temaze, rivotril, serepax, serries, xanax, xannies, stilnox, rohypnol, rowies, valium) and methadone/buprenorphine (e.g., done, junk, jungle juice, bupe, sub).

* Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

** Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50% and is considered too unreliable for general use.

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.

Unemployed: Those who are not currently working and are actively seeking employment.