Drug Use Statistics
Stats show that 78 percent of young people* in WA don’t use illicit drugs 1
There is a downward trend of illicit drug use among Western Australian school students (12 to 17 years)
In 2017, less than one in five Western Australian school students (18.1%) had ever used at least one illicit drug (Figure 1). This is a significant decrease since 1996 (40.7%).2
Between 1996 and 2017, there was also a significant decrease in the number of students who had used illicit drugs in the...
- past year (36.6% to 16.1%)
- past month (24.2% to 9.6%), and
- past week (16.5% to 5.6%).2
The graph below shows cannabis was the most commonly used illicit drug among all students in the past year (15.2%). tranquillisers (13.9%) and inhalants (11.5%) were also commonly used.2
Downward trend in cannabis use among Western Australian school students
In 2017, around one in six (16.8%) Western Australian school students had tried cannabis in their lifetime. This was a significant decline from 1996, where around two in five (39.4%) students were estimated to have tried cannabis in their lifetime. 2
Downward trend in amphetamine use
In 2017, 1.2% of Western Australian school students reported having ever used meth/amphetamine and 4.0% reported having ever used dexamphetamine for non-medical reasons.2
Illicit drug use trends among all Western Australians
The term ‘illicit drugs’, covers a wide range of drugs that includes illegal drugs (such as cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine), misuse of prescription pharmaceuticals (such as tranquillisers, sleeping pills, and opioids), and other substances. In the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) around one in six (16.8%) of Western Australian’s aged 14 years and older reported using illicit drugs in the previous 12 months. This is stable in comparison to the 2013 survey results (17%).3 but was slightly higher than the national average of 15.6 percent.3,In 2016, illicit drug use was the highest among the 20-29 age group, of which 29.8 percent reported use in the last 12 months (see image below), however this was higher than the national average of 28.2 percent.4
Cannabis, the most commonly used illicit drug
In 2016, approximately one in 10 (11.6%) Western Australians had recently** used cannabis.4
People living in Western Australia (2.7%) all reported higher rates of methamphetamine use than the national average of 1.4%. 3
In Western Australia, a noticeable drop between 2013 and 2016 was reported, but the ‘ice’ form of meth/amphetamine use still remained highest among people living in Western Australia. 3
The graph below shows the recent use of illicit drugs by type among Western Australians in 2016.
The cost of illicit drug use
Alcohol and other drug use costs the Australian community an estimated $55.2 billion per year, of which 27.3% is attributed to alcohol and 14.6% is attributed to illicit drug use.5
- Kantar Public. (2018) Drug Attitudes Survey Results. Perth, WA: Kantar Public
- Guerin, N., & White, V. (2018). ASSAD 2017 Statistics & Trends: Australian Secondary Students’ Use of Tobacco, Alcohol, Over-the-counter Drugs, and Illicit Substances. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/project/Australian-Secondary-Students-Alcohol-and-Drug-Survey-ASSAD
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2017). National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. Drug Statistics series no. 31. Cat. no. PHE 214. Canberra: AIHW
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2017). National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. Data Tables. Drug Statistics series no. 31. Cat. no. PHE 214. Canberra: AIHW.
- Collins, D. J., & Lapsley, H. M (2008). The costs of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug abuse to Australian society in 2004/05. Retrieved from http://www.nationaldrugstrategy.gov.au/ internet/drugstrategy/publishing.nsf/Content/mono64/$File/ mono64.pdf
Page last updated: 10 September 2019
Looking for info about the effects of a specific drug?
Check out the Drug Types page here.