Where do Australians use pharmaceutical drugs for non-medical purposes?

The majority of Australians who used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids or tranquillisers/sleeping pills for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months typically used them in private homes (95% and 85%, respectively).

Among Australians who have used pain-killers/pain-relievers/opioids for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months, 95% typically use them in a private home, 11% in a public place/establishment, 4%* at a private party, 4%* in a car or other vehicle, 2%* at a rave/dance party, and 4%* somewhere else. Among Australians who have used tranquillisers/sleeping pills for non-medical purposes in the past 12 months, 85% typically use them in a private home, 5%* in a public place/establishment, 4%* at a private party, 4%* in a car or other vehicle, 5%* at a rave/dance party, and 12% somewhere else.

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

* 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.