The mental health of Australians 2

6.3 Impact of substance use disorders

Page last updated: May 2009

6.3.1 Days out of role
6.3.2 Interference with life
6.3.3 Psychological distress

6.3.1 Days out of role

The number of days out of role in the 30 days prior to interview reported by people with each type of substance use disorder is presented in Table 6-3. The average number of days out of role for those with any form of substance use disorder was 3.3 days in the previous 30 days. Any drug dependence was associated with the largest number of days out of role at 6.4 days.

Table 6-3: Days out of role by type of 12-month substance use disorder

Substance use disorder

Days out of role in previous 30 days (mean)

Alcohol harmful use
2.4
Alcohol dependence
3.8
Any drug harmful use
3.9
Any drug dependence
6.4
Any substance use disorder
3.3

Note: Total is lower than the sum of disorders as people may have had more than one type of substance use disorder.

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6.3.2 Interference with life

Interference with life was assessed separately for each substance dependence disorder across the four domains of home responsibilities, work or study, close relationships and social life. Table 6-4 shows the proportion of people with alcohol dependence and any drug dependence who rated the impact of their mental disorders as severe or very severe interference. One in five people with alcohol dependence and with any drug dependence (21.0% and 20.6% respectively) reported significant interference in at least one of the life domains.

Table 6-4: Proportion of people with severe or very severe interference across different life domains by type of 12-month substance dependence disorder

Home (%)

Work or study (%)

Close relationships (%)

Social life (%)

Any life domain (%)

Alcohol dependence
15.4
11.1
13.2
11.9
21.0
Any drug dependence
13.6
9.4
13.6
17.2
20.6

Note: This information is not available for those diagnosed with alcohol harmful use or drug harmful use.
Any domain is lower than the sum of individual domains as people may have experienced severe or very severe interference in more than one life domain.

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6.3.3 Psychological distress

The proportion of people with each type of substance use disorder, who reported each of the four levels of psychological distress, as measured by the Kessler 10 scale (K10), is presented in Table 6-5. Levels of distress differed for the different types of substance use disorder.

Over half (57.2%) of people with any drug dependence and one quarter (27.4%) with any drug harmful use reported high to very high levels of psychological distress. Among people with alcohol dependence one in three (38.7%) experienced high or very high psychological distress compared to one in six (15.3%) with alcohol harmful use.

Table 6-5: Proportion of people with each psychological distress (K10) level by type of 12-month substance use disorder

Substance use disorder

Low (%)

Moderate (%)

High (%)

Very high (%)

Alcohol harmful use
59.6
25.1
13.3
2.0
Alcohol dependence
32.7
28.6
24.4
14.3
Any drug harmful use
44.1
28.4
18.5
8.9
Any drug dependence
19.9
22.9
41.1
16.1
Any substance use disorder
48.6
26.7
17.5
7.3

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