Are men or women in Australia more likely to have used pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes?

Similar proportions of Australian men and women have used pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes in their lifetime, in the past 12 months, in the past month, and in the past week.

Among Australian men 12% have used pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes in their lifetime, 5% in the past 12 months, 2% in the past month, and 1% in the past week. Among Australian women 13% have used pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes in their lifetime, 5% in the past 12 months, 2% in the past month, and 1% in the past week.

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).

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.