Do men and women in Australia use different types of pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes?

Australian men are slightly more likely than Australian women to have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids for non-medical purposes in their lifetime and in the past year. Australian women are slightly more likely than men to have used tranquilisers/sleeping pills non-medically in their lifetime, but men and women are equally likely to have used tranquilisers/sleeping pills in the past year. They are also equally as likely to have used methadone/buprenorphine, both in their lifetime and in the past year.

10% of Australian men have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids in their lifetime, compared to 9% of women. 4% of Australian men have used tranquillisers/sleeping pills in their lifetime, compared to 5% of women. 0.6% of Australian men have used methadone/buprenorphine in their lifetime, compared to 0.3% of women. 4% of Australian men have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids in the past year, compared to 3% of women. 2% of Australian men have used tranquillisers/sleeping pills in the past year, compared to 2% of women. 0.1%* of Australian men have used methadone/buprenorphine in the past year, compared to 0.1%* of women. * Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NCETA secondary analysis, 2019).

Please note: This FAQ uses data from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which defines the pharmaceutical drugs referred to in this question as: the 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.

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.