Are younger or older Australians more likely to have used pharmaceutical drugs in their lifetime?

Australians aged 40-49 years and 50-59 years are more likely than other age groups to have used pharmaceutical drugs in their lifetime.

Among Australians aged 14-17 years 58% have used pharmaceutical drugs in their lifetime. Among Australians aged 18-24 years 62% have used pharmaceutical drugs in their lifetime. Among Australians aged 25-29 years 71% have used pharmaceutical drugs in their lifetime. Among Australians aged 30-39 years 73% have used pharmaceutical drugs in their lifetime. Among Australians aged 40-49 years 77% have used pharmaceutical drugs in their lifetime. Among Australians aged 50-59 years 78% have used pharmaceutical drugs in their lifetime. Among Australians aged 60+ years 73% have used pharmaceutical drugs in their lifetime.

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 and 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.