How often do Australians usually use pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes?

Among Australians who used pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months, the largest proportion typically used once or twice a year. The smallest proportion used every day.

Among Australians who have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months, 9% use every day, 21% use once a week or more, 17% use about once a month, 26% use every few months, and 29% use once or twice a year. Among Australians who have used tranquillisers/sleeping pills for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months, 8% use every day, 13% use once a week or more, 22% use about once a month, 19% use every few months, and 39% use once or twice a year.

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 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)) and tranquillisers/sleeping pills (e.g., sleepers, benzos, tranks, temazzies, temaze, rivotril, serepax, serries, xanax, xannies, stilnox, rohypnol, rowies, valium).

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.