Young Australians, illicit drug use and harm reduction
Young adults (18-25 years) are the age-group most likely to use illicit drugs in Australia.
But who’s most at risk? What drugs? Where? When? Why?
And, how can we frame messaging to have a positive impact on young adults’ drug use?
To find out more, we’ve examined the evidence to identify the high-risk subgroups and behaviours most likely to benefit from harm reduction efforts as well as the types of messages, settings and channels that are most effective when it comes to reducing drug harms in young adults.
Summary Report - Young Australians, illicit drug use and harm reduction
Minimising the harm of illicit drug use among young adults
We know young adults (18-25 years) are the age-group most likely to use illicit drugs in Australia.
But there’s a lot we don’t know, including the extent, setting, patterns of use, and most common drug types.
To find out more about young adult illicit drug use we looked at the evidence to:
- identify high-risk subgroups and behaviours most likely to benefit from harm reduction efforts
- find out the types of messaging, settings and delivery channels that have been most effective in reducing drug harms in young adults.
Our research aims to better understand these factors in the Australian context, and to offer recommendations for future efforts aimed at young adults to reduce harm.
We undertook the research in two parts. Firstly, we conducted an evidence review of relevant data sources, including the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) and the 2019 Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS). This review provided illicit drug use patterns and identified gaps in the data. Secondly, we reviewed the evidence for effective approaches to communicating drug harm reduction messages to young adults.
A note on the data. The evidence summary predominantly relies on the latest data from NDSHS and EDRS (2019). The closest available age-related data on drug use in Australia is 18-24 years. NDSHS data on age groups is sporadic for some data sets, so ages 14-19 and 20-29 are used where necessary. Given the NDSHS does not collect information from vulnerable people residing in institutions or experiencing homelessness, it is likely that the data is underestimated. With these caveats in mind, the following data on illicit drug use among young adults is presented.
Not sure what you are looking for? Try our intuitive Path2Help tool and be matched with support information and services tailored to you.Find out more