The mental health of Australians 2

6.1 Prevalence of substance use disorders in the Australian population

Page last updated: May 2009

One in twenty Australians aged 16-85 years (5.1%) had a substance use disorder in the 12 months prior to interview (Table 6-1). Alcohol harmful use disorder was the most common form of substance use disorder with a prevalence of 2.9%. Both harmful use and dependence were more commonly diagnosed for alcohol (2.9% and 1.4% respectively) than for drugs (0.9% and 0.6% respectively). Among the drug use disorders, the prevalence of cannabis and stimulant related disorders were higher than the equivalent sedative and opioid related disorders.

Table 6-1: Prevalence of 12-month substance use disorders by substance use disorder type and sex

Substance use disorder

Males (%)

Females (%)

Persons (%)

Alcohol

Harmful use
3.8
2.1
2.9
Dependence
2.2
0.7
1.4

Cannabis

Harmful use
0.8
0.3
0.6
Dependence
0.7
0.2
0.4

Stimulants

Harmful use
0.5
0.2
0.4
Dependence
0.4
0.1
0.3

Sedatives

Harmful use
0.04
Dependence
0.1
0.1
0.1

Opioids

Harmful use
0.1
Dependence
0.1
0.1
0.1

Any drug

Harmful use
1.3
0.5
0.9
Dependence
0.9
0.4
0.6

Any substance

Harmful use
4.7
2.4
3.5
Dependence
2.6
1.0
1.8

Any substance use disorder

7.0
3.3
5.1

Note: Totals are lower than the sum of disorders as people may have had more than one type of substance use disorder in the 12 months.

np Not available for publication, but included in totals where applicable.