What proportion of Australians who used pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes concurrently used other drugs?

Almost half of the Australians who used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months used another drug at the same time. The drugs most commonly used concurrently with pain-killers/analgesics were alcohol and tobacco.

36% of Australians who used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months used alcohol concurrently, 25% used tobacco, 19% used cannabis; 5% used tranquillisers/sleeping pills, 7% used meth/amphetamine, 12% used other drugs, and 51% didn’t use any drug.

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))

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.