Australia’s most comprehensive drug and alcohol survey has found that prevention programs to reduce alcohol and drug harm is working, but more needs to be done.
The National Drug Strategy Household Survey is conducted every two to three years. The latest survey involved nearly 24,000 people across Australia and was conducted between 31 July and 1 December 2013. A detailed report has just been released and amongst the finding were:
- 1 in 7 Australians have used an illicit drug within the last year.
- A decline in the use of ecstasy, heroin and GHB was found.
- While there was no change in the use of methamphetamines and amphetamines, there was a switch to the more dangerous and addictive types of these drugs. For example, the use of ice has more than doubled since 2010.
- Risky alcohol drinking habits have declined, with around half of all drinkers surveyed saying they are reducing the amount of alcohol they drink.
- Around 5 million people in Australia aged 14 or older reported that they were a victim of an alcohol-related incident in 2013. While this figure is staggering, it is a proportional drop on the figures from 2010.
While some results are encouraging, Australian Drug Foundation CEO John Rogerson says that now’s not the time to relax.
“The problem is still real – there are 5,500 deaths a year due to alcohol. That figure should not be taken lightly – these are avoidable deaths.”
Mr Rogerson added that prevention work needs to target:
- People living in remote areas, who are twice as likely as people in major cities to drink at risky levels and use drugs.
- Grassroots intervention programs to support healthy communities.
- Legislative changes, including alcohol labeling and reduced trading hours.