What is the average age at which Australians start to use pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes?

The age at which Australians first start to use pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes differs by drug type. The average age at which Australians started using pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids for non-medical purposes is 23 years, compared to 24 years for methadone/buprenorphine, and 31 years for tranquillisers/sleeping pills.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

† 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).

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.