Does lifetime pharmaceutical drug use in Australia vary by geographic location?

Lifetime use of any pharmaceutical druguseis lower in major cities compared to other geographic locations. When examining specific drug types, use of pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids is slightly higher in regional and remote areas compared to major cities, while use of tranquillisers/sleeping pills and methadone/buprenorphine is relatively similar across geographic locations.

Among Australians living in major cities, 68% have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids during their lifetime; 25% have used tranquillisers/sleeping pills; 1% have used methadone/buprenorphine; and 71% have used pharmaceutical drugs. Among Australians living in inner regional areas, 73% have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids during their lifetime; 25% have used tranquillisers/sleeping pills; 0.9% have used methadone/buprenorphine; and 75% have used pharmaceutical drugs. Among Australians living in outer regional/remote/very remote areas, 72% have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids during their lifetime; 23% have used tranquillisers/sleeping pills; 1% have used methadone/buprenorphine; and 75% have used pharmaceutical drugs.

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.