Addiction Statistics in Australia

According to the most recent National Drug Strategy Household Survey, published by the Australian Government Department of Health, one in five Australians (20.4%) aged 14 years and older reported illicit drug use in the previous 12 months, up from 18.4% in 2013-14. Illegal drug use includes cannabis, ecstasy, methamphetamine (ICE), cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin.

Addiction Trends in Australia

Addiction is a major issue in Australia. The statistics are startling. With the help of technology, we can better understand and deal with this problem.

The Department of Health has found that one in six Australians have a drug addiction and one in ten have an alcohol addiction. This means that there are more than 2 million people suffering from addiction in Australia alone.

There are a number of factors that contribute to addiction including genetics, mental health issues, social factors, childhood trauma and abuse and more. Technology has been used to help individuals recover from their addictions as well as to help others understand the signs of addiction earlier on so they can intervene before it is too late.

The drug trends in Australia are constantly changing, but as of 2020, it was estimated that:

  • There are around 2.8 million cannabis users in Australia.
  • Approximately 113,000 people use cocaine regularly in Australia.
  • 237,000 people use amphetamines regularly in Australia.
  • 283,000 people are addicted to opioids in Australia.
  • 6,000 Australians die each year as a result of alcohol abuse.
  • In 2020, around 2,600,000 Australians will have an addiction to drugs or alcohol. This number is up from 2,100,000 in 2017, an increase of 25%.

Tobacco addiction is a significant problem in Australia. In 2017, 17% of Australian adults smoked daily, resulting in 11,700 deaths. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Australia. The average smoker will spend up to $15,000 per year on tobacco products which means that smokers are spending an annual $3 billion on cigarettes alone.

Drug Addiction by Australian Cities

According to a report released by the Australian government, there are six cities in Australia with the most drug addiction problems. The report, titled “The National Drug Strategy: Cities and Towns”, found that Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin all have serious drug addiction issues.

Australian Cities with Highest Addiction Rates (per capita)

  1. Perth
  2. Sydney
  3. Melbourne
  4. Gold Coast
  5. Brisbane
  6. Adelaide
  7. Newcastle
  8. Canberra
  9. Wollongong
  10. Hobart

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please contact your local GP or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for help.

Cocaine Abuse in Australia

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can produce feelings of euphoria, energy, and alertness. People often use it to stay awake and party or dance all night.

According to the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC), in 2017-2018, around 343,000 Australians aged 14 or older (1.2% of the population) had used cocaine in their lifetime. Approximately 119,000 Australians aged 14 or older  (.4% of the population) had used cocaine in the previous year.

The ratio of people who had ever used cocaine increased from 2.7% in 2013-14 to 3.4% in 2016-17.

Cocaine is a Class A drug in Australia, which means it is illegal to possess, use, or sell. Penalties for possession or use can include a fine of up to $2,200 or imprisonment for up to two years. Penalties for selling or supplying cocaine can include a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for 25 years.

Marijuana Use and Abuse in Australia

Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia. According to the NDARC, in 2017-2018, around 2.5 million Australians aged 14 or older (8.8% of the population) used marijuana in their lifetime. About 1 million Australians aged 14 or older (3.5% of the population) had used marijuana in the previous year.

Marijuana is a Class B drug in Australia, which means it is illegal to possess, use or sell. Penalties for possession or use can include a fine of up to $2,200 or imprisonment for up to two years.

Penalties for selling or supplying marijuana can include a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 10 years.

Amphetamine Abuse in Australia

Amphetamines are stimulants, such as prescription drugs like Adderall, as well as crystal meth, and they can produce feelings of energy, euphoria, and alertness. According to the NDARC, in 2017-2018, around 548,000 Australians aged 14 or older (1.9% of the population) had used amphetamines in their lifetime. About 228,000 Australians aged 14 or older (.8% of the population) had used amphetamines in the previous year.

The use of amphetamines (including ICE) has increased significantly over the past few years. In 2013-14, 2% of Australians had used amphetamines in the previous 12 months, which increased to 3.5% in 2016-17. The proportion of people who had used ecstasy in the last 12 months remained stable at 2.5%.

Amphetamines are a Class B drug in Australia, which means they are illegal to possess, use or sell. Penalties for possession or use can include a fine of up to $2,200 or imprisonment for up to two years. Penalties for selling or supplying amphetamines can consist of a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for 25 years.

Amphetamine use and abuse in Australia are rising, with the number of people using the drug increasing every year. In 2020, around 850,000 Australians will have used amphetamines at some point in their life. This number is up from 548,000 in 2017, suggesting that the use of amphetamines is increasing by around 50% each year.

In 2020, around 2,500 Australians were incarcerated for using or selling amphetamines, and this number was up from 1,750 in 2017 (a 44% increase).

Opioid Abuse in Australia

Opioids are prescription drugs and illegal drugs used to reduce pain. Opioids are strong and addictive, which can lead to dependence if not taken as prescribed. Recent studies have found that more than two-thirds of young people who use opioids recreationally get them from friends or relatives.

Opioids include drugs such as morphine, codeine, and heroin. According to the NDARC, in 2017-2018, around 251,000 Australians aged 14 or older (.9% of the population) had used opioids in their lifetime. Roughly 79,000 Australians aged 14 or older (.3% of the population) had used opioids in the previous year.

Opioids are a Class A drug in Australia, which means they are illegal to possess, use, or sell. Penalties for possession or use can include a fine of up to $2,200 or imprisonment for up to two years. Penalties for selling or supplying opioids can consist of a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 25 years.

Opioid abuse in Australia is also rising, with the number of people using the drug increasing every year. In 2020, around 340,000 Australians will have used opioids at some point in their life, increased from 251,000 in 2017, a 35% jump.

Opioids like heroin and illegally manufactured fentanyl are Class A drugs in Australia. Possessing, using, or selling them can result in fines or imprisonment.

In 2020, around 1,500 Australians were imprisoned for using or selling opioids, a 50% increase from three years before.

Heroin Abuse in Australia

Heroin abuse has always been a major problem in Australia, but it is only getting worse. According to a study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, heroin-related hospital admissions in Australia have more than doubled from 2008 to 2018. The study also found that heroin-related hospital admissions in Australia are now at their highest level since 2001.

Heroin abuse is at an all-time high in Australia and the numbers are only going up. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that there were 3,527 heroin-related hospital admissions in 2018 alone. This number is up from 2,216 hospital admissions in 2008.

The number of Australians who die as a result of heroin overdoses every year is also on the rise. There were 604 deaths related to heroin overdose between 2016 and 2017, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, a rise from the 527 deaths in 2015-2016.

Heroin use in Australia is also rising, with the number of people using the drug increasing every year. As of 2020, around 15,000 Australians have used heroin at some point in their life, up from 10,000 in 2017, a 50% increase.

As heroin is a Class A drug in Australia, possessing, using, or selling it can result in fines or imprisonment.

In 2020, around 1,500 Australians were imprisoned for using or selling heroin. This number is up from 1,000 in 2017, increasing around 50% each year.

Alcohol Abuse in Australia

Alcohol is a Class C drug in Australia. It is a depressant that can cause feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Alcohol can also cause drowsiness and respiratory depression, which can be fatal if it leads to coma or death.

Alcohol abuse in Australia is increasing, with the number of people using the drug increasing every year. In 2020, around 3,100,000 Australians will have used alcohol at some point in their life, increasing by 20% over a few years prior. In 2017, there were 1,464 hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption for people aged 15-24 years, the highest number on record for this age group.

Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne are the top three Australian cities with the highest rates of alcohol abuse, according to a report released by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE).

Alcohol addiction is a significant problem in Australia, with 1 in 5 Australians (20%) aged 18 years and older drinking at levels that put their health at risk. In 2017, there were 3,247 alcohol-related deaths in Australia, an increase of 9% from 2016 and the highest number on record. In 2020, around 6,000 Australians died due to drinking alcohol to excess.

Alcohol is a significant contributor to disease and death in Australia. It is a factor in more than 60 types of illness and injury, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, and mental health problems. As alcohol is legal in Australia, possessing, using, or selling it does not carry any penalties. However, drinking alcohol to excess can lead to health problems such as liver cirrhosis, auto accidents, and violent behavior.

For more information on Australia’s drug and alcohol addiction statistics, please visit the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Benzodiazepine Abuse in Australia

Benzodiazepines are a type of medication that is used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. They are also sometimes used to help with sleep problems. These medications can be addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms when they are stopped.

The use of benzodiazepines in Australia has increased dramatically over the past decade, with more than one million prescriptions being dispensed every year.

Benzodiazepine abuse is becoming a major problem in Australia, with the number of people who have abused benzodiazepines in the last 12 months increasing from 1% to 4%.

Benzodiazepine abuse is a serious problem for Australians who suffer from anxiety and panic disorders or sleep problems because these medications can be addictive and cause withdrawal symptoms when they are stopped.

Benzodiazepine abuse in Australia is also on the rise, with the number of people using the drug increasing every year. In 2020, it is estimated that around 80,000 Australians will have used benzodiazepines at some point in their life. This number is up from 60,000 in 2017, meaning that the use of benzodiazepines is increasing by around 33% each year. Benzodiazepines are a type of drug that is used to reduce anxiety, and they are a Class C drug in Australia.

As benzodiazepines are a Class C drug in Australia, possessing, using, or selling them can result in fines or imprisonment.

As of 2020, 2,000 Australians were imprisoned for using or selling benzodiazepines. This number is up from 1,500 in 2017,  an increase of around 33% each year.

Criminal Drug Laws in Australia

Criminal drug laws in Australia are a set of offenses that govern the possession and use of drugs. These laws are created to punish people who break them, deter people from using drugs, and reduce the harm that can be caused by drug use.

In Australia, there are four different levels of criminal offenses called “schedules”.

  • Schedule 1 is the most serious level with strict penalties for anyone who possesses or uses drugs listed in this schedule.
  • Schedule 2 is less serious with lower penalties for anyone who possesses or uses drugs listed in this schedule.
  • Schedule 3 is also less serious but has higher penalties than Schedule 2 for anyone found to possess or use drugs listed in this schedule.
  • Schedule 4 is the least serious level with no penalties.

The criminal drug laws in Australia are outlined in the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985, an act of the Parliament of Australia. The Act was introduced to make it possible for penalties to be applied for drug trafficking and manufacture.

The Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act divides illegal drugs into three classes.

  • Class A: These are the most dangerous drugs and include opioids, amphetamines, and cocaine.
  • Class B: These are less dangerous drugs and include cannabis, ecstasy and hallucinogens.
  • Class C: These are the least dangerous drugs and include sedatives, tranquilizers, and inhalants.

Illicit Drug Use Penalties in Australia

Criminal drug use penalties in Australia are dependent on the type of drug and how much you have. If you are caught with a small quantity of drugs, you will likely be fined or given a warning. However, if you are caught with large amounts of drugs, or if you have committed another crime while under the influence of illicit drugs, then you will likely be sentenced to jail time.

The maximum penalties are as follows:

  • Class A: 25 years imprisonment and/or a $450,000 fine
  • Class B: 10 years imprisonment and/or a $220,000 fine
  • Class C: 2 years imprisonment and/or a $110,000 fine

Penalties for drug offenses vary depending on the class of drug, the amount of the drug involved, and whether or not it is for personal use or trafficking.

Drug Overdose Deaths in Australia

Drug overdose deaths in Australia have increased by more than 100% in the past decade.

In 2017, there were 1,898 drug overdose deaths in Australia. This was a rise of 102% from 2007 when there were only 939 drug overdose deaths reported.

There are many factors that contribute to this increase in drug overdose deaths including:

  • A lack of treatment services and rehabilitation programs
  • The introduction of new illicit drugs on the market
  • The rise of prescription opioid use due to pain management

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Australia, and it’s on the rise.

In 2015, there were 3,027 drug overdose deaths in Australia- an increase of 10% from the year before. The majority of these deaths were caused by opioids (heroin and prescription drugs), followed by benzodiazepines (tranquilizers and sleeping pills).

The number of drug overdose deaths has risen over the past few years. By 2020, it was estimated that there were 3,500+ drug overdose deaths in Australia – a 20% increase from 2015. 9.8 people die every day from a drug overdose.

Causes of Overdose Deaths in Australia

In Australia, overdose deaths are a major issue. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that in 2016, there were 1,869 drug-induced deaths in the country. This is more than double the number of deaths from other causes such as suicide and homicide combined.

Heroin is the most commonly used drug in Australia, and it is responsible for the majority of drug overdose deaths. However, methamphetamine is also a prominent contributor to overdose deaths.

To address this issue, the Australian government has launched several initiatives to reduce the availability of heroin and methamphetamine, including:

  • The National Ice Action Strategy: This strategy aims to reduce the harm caused by ice addiction in Australia.
  • The National Drug Strategy: This strategy aims to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in Australia.
  • The Australian Border Force: This agency is responsible for stopping the importation of illicit drugs into Australia.

Addiction Treatment in Australia

Addiction treatment in Australia is not a new concept. It has been around for many years and is now recognized as an essential part of the healthcare system. The National Drug Strategy 2010-2020 outlines the importance of addiction treatment in Australia and how it should be available to all who need it.

The National Drug Strategy 2010-2020 defines addiction treatment as: “a range of interventions, including counseling, psychotherapy, pharmacological treatments and other therapeutic interventions that are designed to reduce or stop drug use.”

In recent years there has been a shift in the way addiction treatment is delivered. This includes a move away from traditional residential rehabilitation programs towards more community-based services due to the increased demand for help.

One specific program that has grown in recent years is the use of sober living communities – which are now being used as a stepping stone to recovery. These communities usually offer everything from housing, meals, and rehabilitation services. Rehabilitation centers have also been found to be effective in treating addiction due to their ability to offer treatment programs in a group setting with peers

There are several addiction treatment options available in Australia, including:

  • Inpatient rehabilitation: This is a residential treatment program that lasts for at least 28 days.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: This treatment program allows people to continue living at home while attending regular sessions.
  • Counseling: This involves meeting with a therapist to talk about your addiction and related issues.
  • Self-help groups: These are groups where people share their experiences and support each other in their recovery.

Australia Public Health Programs for Substance Use and Abuse

The Australian government has a number of public health programs that are designed to help people with substance use and abuse. These programs are designed to help people quit their addiction, manage their addiction, and stay safe when they are using substances.

The Australian government provides several programs to help people with drug abuse problems, including:

  • The National Drugs and Alcohol Treatment Services Directory: This directory lists all the drug and alcohol treatment services in Australia.
  • The Drug Policy website: This website provides information on drug policy in Australia, including current trends and developments.
  • The National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre: This centre provides information on cannabis use and addiction in Australia.
  • The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: This institute provides information on all aspects of health in Australia, including drug and alcohol addiction.

For more information on these programs, please visit the following website: www.health.gov.au/drug-alcohol-addiction.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, please visit www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au/publications/treatment-services-directory for a list of drug and alcohol treatment services in Australia. You can also call the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1300 811 994 for more information

Australian Addiction Treatment Helplines

New South Wales

Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)

Sydney: 02 9361 8000
Regional NSW: 1800 422 599
A 24-hour confidential information, advice and referral telephone service.

Victoria

Direct Line 1800 888 236
24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Confidential alcohol and drug counseling and referral line.

Queensland

Alcohol and Drug Information Services (ADIS) 1800 177 833
24-hour Alcohol and Drug Information Service.

Western Australia

WA Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS)

Perth: 08 9442 5000
Regional WA: 1800 198 024
A 24-hour, confidential telephone service that provides information, counseling, referral, and advice.

South Australia

Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) 1300 131 340
24-hour telephone information, counseling, and referral service.

Tasmania

Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) 1800 811 994
24-hour telephone service offering information, advice, referral, intake, assessment and support.

Australian Capital Territory

ACT Health Services: Alcohol and Other Drugs 02 6207 9977
24-hour telephone service offering information, advice, referral, intake, assessment and support.

Northern Territory

Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) 1800 131 350
24-hour alcohol and drug telephone information and counseling service

Reviewed by:Chris Carberg

Addiction Guide Founder & Mental Health Advocate

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Chris Carberg is a visionary digital entrepreneur, the Founder of Addiction Guide, and a long-time recovering addict from prescription opioids, sedatives, and alcohol.  Over the past 15 years, Chris has worked as a tireless advocate for addicts and their loved ones, while becoming a sought-after digital entrepreneur. Chris is a storyteller and aims to share his story with others in the hopes of helping them achieve their own recovery.

Written by:

Content Manager

Jessica Miller is a USF graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She has written professionally for over a decade, from HR scripts and employee training to business marketing and company branding. In addition to writing, Jessica spent time in the healthcare sector (HR) and as a high school teacher. She has personally experienced the pitfalls of addiction and is delighted to bring her knowledge and writing skills together to support our mission. Jessica lives in St. Petersburg, FL with her husband and two dogs.

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