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78% Don’t Use

This campaign aims to reinforce that most young people in WA don’t use drugs.  

78% Don’t Use illicit drugs

The new Drug Aware, Generic Drugs “78% don’t use” campaign was launched on 18 August 2019 and ran on social media, online, radio and out-of-home media.

Western Australian data reveals only 22 percent of young people aged 14 – 21 years reported using illicit drugs in the last 12 months.1

Young people tend to over-estimate the number of other young people who use drugs and who think this behaviour is acceptable and normal. The ‘78% Don’t Use’ campaign aims to challenge these misconceptions.

The developing brain

The prefrontal cortex part is still developing during adolescence. This part of the brain is responsible for decision making, impulse control, and working memory.2

Because of this young people are more likely to engage in risky behaviours

This causes the brain to underestimate risk and overestimate pleasure, characterising adolescence by heightened levels of impulsivity and novelty seeking. Therefore young people are more inclined to participate in risky, pleasure-orientated experiences including experimenting with alcohol and other drugs.3,4

Young people are also more susceptible to peer pressure

Additionally, during adolescence, young people are highly susceptible to peer pressure, influence, and have ‘rites of passage’. Peers influence each other through ‘pluralistic ignorance’;5 this is the belief that more individuals are engaging in substance use than actually are, and this may contribute to their own use of alcohol and other drugs.2

Preventing drug related harm for young people both now and in the future

The campaign aims to challenge these misconceptions among young people to aid in influencing their decisions to not initiate or continue drug use just because they think ‘everyone else is doing it’.  

Campaign objectives

  • Reduce inflated misconceptions among young people that most of their peers are using drugs and that they think this is acceptable.
  • Challenge population misconceptions that most young people are using drugs.
  • Encourage young people to seek more information about drugs.

Target group

WA young people aged 16-22 years old who are:

  • using drugs now,
  • thinking about using drugs, or
  • will be in a situation where drugs are offered.

Key messages 

  • Most young people don’t use drugs.
  1. Kantar Public (2018), “Drug Attitudes 2018 – Survey Results”. Perth WA: Kantar Public.
  2. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2018). Drugs and Age. Retrieved from (p.27, 33)
  3. Debenham, J., Newton, N., Birrell, L., & Askovic, M. (2019). Alcohol and other drug prevention for older adolescents: It's a no brainer. Drug and Alcohol Review, 38(4), 327-330. doi:10.1111/dar.12914 (p.328)
  4. Lupton, D. and J. Tulloch (2002). "'Risk is a Part of Your Life': Risk Epistemologies among a Group of Australians." Sociology 36(2): 317-334.
  5. Prentice, DA, & Miller, DT (1993), “Pluralistic ignorance and alcohol use on campus: some consequences of misperceiving the social norm”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol.64, no.2, pp. 243-256.

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