Are male or female Australian school students aged 12-17 years more likely to have used pharmaceutical drugs?

Among Australian school students aged 12-17 years, girls were more likely than boys to have used analgesics (for either medical or non-medical purposes) in their lifetime, the past year, the past month and the past week.

Similar proportions of boys and girls had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in their lifetime, in the past year, in the past month and in the past week.

Analgesics In 2017, 94% of male and 97% of female Australian school students aged 12-17 years had used analgesics in their lifetime. In 2017, 89% of male and 95% of female Australian school students aged 12-17 years had used analgesics in the past year. In 2017, 58% of male and 75% of female Australian school students aged 12-17 years had used analgesics in the past month. In 2017, 32% of male and 46% of female Australian school students aged 12-17 years had used analgesics in the past week. Tranquillisers In 2017, 20% of male and 19% of female Australian school students aged 12-17 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in their lifetime. In 2017, 13% of male and 13% of female Australian school students aged 12-17 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in the past year. In 2017, 6% of male and 5% of female Australian school students aged 12-17 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in the past month. In 2017, 4% of male and 3% of female Australian school students aged 12-17 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in the past week.

Source: Cancer Council Victoria. (2018). Australian secondary school students' use of tobacco, alcohol, over-the-counter drugs and illicit substances in 2017.

Please note: This FAQ uses data from the Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey, which defines the pharmaceutical drugs referred to in this question as: the medical or non-medical use of analgesics (defined as: pain-killers/analgesics such as ‘Disprin®’, ‘Panadol®’ or ‘Nurofen®’) and the non-medical use of tranquillisers (defined as sleeping tablets, tranquillisers, sedatives or benzodiazepines, such as valium, mogadon, diazepam, temazepam (mazzies, vallies, moggies, jellies), serepax (serries) or rohypnol (rohies, barbs)).