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

Among Australian school students aged 12-17 years, analgesic use (for either medical or non-medical purposes) and tranquilliser use (for non-medical purposes) typically increases with age.

Analgesics In 2017, 93% of Australian school students aged 12 years had used analgesics (for either medical or non-medical purposes) in their lifetime; 89% in the past year; 56% in the past month; and 29% in the past week. In 2017, 95% of Australian school students aged 13 years had used analgesics (for either medical or non-medical purposes) in their lifetime; 92% in the past year; 63% in the past month; and 34% in the past week. In 2017, 95% of Australian school students aged 14 years had used analgesics (for either medical or non-medical purposes) in their lifetime; 91% in the past year; 66% in the past month; and 39% in the past week. In 2017, 96% of Australian school students aged 15 years had used analgesics (for either medical or non-medical purposes) in their lifetime; 93% in the past year; 71% in the past month; and 44% in the past week. In 2017, 96% of Australian school students aged 16 years had used analgesics (for either medical or non-medical purposes) in their lifetime; 94% in the past year; 72% in the past month; and 44% in the past week. In 2017, 97% of Australian school students aged 17 years had used analgesics (for either medical or non-medical purposes) in their lifetime; 94% in the past year; 71% in the past month; and 46% in the past week. Tranquillisers In 2017, 16% of Australian school students aged 12 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in their lifetime; 9% in the past year; 4% in the past month; and 3% in the past week. In 2017, 18% of Australian school students aged 13 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in their lifetime; 12% in the past year; 4% in the past month; and 3% in the past week. In 2017, 20% of Australian school students aged 14 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in their lifetime; 13% in the past year; 6% in the past month; and 4% in the past week. In 2017, 21% of Australian school students aged 15 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in their lifetime; 14% in the past year; 6% in the past month; and 4% in the past week. In 2017, 21% of Australian school students aged 16 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in their lifetime; 15% in the past year; 6% in the past month; and 4% in the past week. In 2017, 22% of Australian school students aged 17 years had used tranquillisers for non-medical purposes in their lifetime; 17% in the past year; 8% in the past month; and 5% 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)).