Research and Statistics

We are learning more about the area of alcohol and other drugs (AOD) all the time and it is important to keep up-to-date with current findings. It can also be useful to look at trends across time but it can often be difficult to locate older reports (with some no longer being able to be accessed online), so DARTA has provided those that are still available in a downloadable PDF format.

In addition, here is a selection of some recent research and statistics on alcohol and other drugs, with a particular emphasis on that which relates to young people.

More than 2,000 Australians have lost their lives to overdose for the sixth year in a row

September 2021

Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2021, released by the Penington Institute, found that more Australians have died from drug overdose every year since 2014 than in road accidents. More than half (1644) of the 2227 drug-induced deaths recorded nationally in 2019 were unintentional. In 2019 opioids were the drug responsible for most of the unintentional deaths (882), followed by benzodiazepines (582), and stimulants (470). Not surprisingly, many of the deaths were linked to the use of multiple drugs in combination.

New Australian research finds that allowing teens to drink at home is not protective

August 2021

Using data from Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) researchers found that in 2016, around 28% of teens aged 16-17 were allowed to drink alcohol at home. Approximately 18% of teens of this age were permitted to take alcohol to parties or social events. Among teens who had ever drunk alcohol, those with permission to drink at home were significantly more likely to have drunk in the past month (77%, compared to 63%) and in the past week (49%, compared to 34%). the study also found that teens allowed to drink at home were more likely to have experienced alcohol-related harm compared to those without permission (23% vs 17%, respectively).

TikTok videos make vaping look cool and fun

July 2021

Australian researchers analysed 808 TikTok videos, selected using hashtags on  vaping, that had collectively been viewed over 1.5 billion times, and found that 63% portrayed e-cigarette use in a positive light. Some of the video themes included: ‘comedy and joke’ (52%), ‘lifestyle and acceptability’ (35%), ‘marketing’ (29%) and ‘vaping tricks’ (20%). The authors expressed concern that the prevalence of videos about vaping “may create social norms around vaping and increases it’s social acceptance.” As such they recommended effective age restrictions to placed on the social media platform to reduce adolescents’ potential exposure to videos that portray vaping positively.

New NHMRC alcohol guidelines released

December 2020

The statistics around alcohol-related harm in Australia are staggering – 4000 alcohol-related deaths a year, 70,000 hospital admissions and links to more than 40 medical conditions. One in four Australians are drinking alcohol at risky levels and 10-15% of all emergency department presentations are alcohol-related. In an attempt to reduce health risks from drinking the NHMRC has updated their alcohol guidelines based on the current evidence. The recommended maximum number of standard drinks per week has dropped down to 10 from 14 and for the first time they have made a very clear statement about young people and advise no alcohol for anyone under the age of 18.

European school student study shows decline in teen drinking and smoking

November 2020

The 2019 European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) report was released with almost 100,000 students from 35 countries participating in the project. Alcohol use remains high across Europe but trend data shows steady decreases in ‘lifetime’ and ‘current use’ since peaking in 2003. The report highlights cannabis and the non-medical use of prescription drugs as issues of concern. The survey also examined social media use, gaming and gambling and the report is worth looking at just for the findings in the gambling area.