National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

Australian secondary school students' use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2011

5.4 Inhalants

prev pageTOC |next page

Table of contents

Table 5.10 illustrates the use of inhalants over lifetime, past year, past month and past week by age and gender.

Table 5.10: Inhalants: Percentage of students in each age and gender grouping using inhalants in each recency category, Australia, 2011#

Never used
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
82.7
81.4
82.8
83.4
84.7
88.6
83.7
Females
77.1
77.0
79.9
82.0
87.5
89.4
81.8
Total
79.9
79.2
81.3
82.7
86.1
89.0
82.7
Ever used
12 yrs
(%)

13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
17.3
18.6
17.2
16.6
15.3
11.4
16.3
Females
22.9
23.0
20.1
18.0
12.5
10.6
18.2
Total
20.1
20.8
18.7
17.3
13.9
11.0
17.3
Past year
12 yrs
(%)

13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
13.2
13.5
12.2
11.5
9.7
7.4
11.5
Females
17.2
18.4
15.7
13.2
8.7
6.6
13.6
Total
15.2
16.0
13.9
12.4
9.2
7.0
12.6
Top of page
Past month
12 yrs
(%)

13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
8.4
7.6
6.7
5.5
4.8
3.7
6.3
Females
11.1
11.0
8.1
7.8
3.9
3.6
7.8
Total
9.8
9.3
7.4
6.7
4.4
3.6
7.0
Past week
12 yrs
(%)

13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
6.0
4.6
4.3
3.5
2.9
2.4
4.0
Females
6.5
6.9
5.5
4.7
2..4
1.8
4.8
Total
6.2
5.7
4.9
4.1
2.6
2.1
4.4

# Prevalence estimates are within  3.3% of the true population values (see section 2.6). See Appendix 4 for 95% Confidence interval estimates for different proportions for each age and gender group.

Less than 20% of all students had deliberately sniffed inhalants at least once during their lives. While 13% had used inhalants at some time in the past year, seven per cent of students had done so within the past month. Use in the week preceding the survey was reported by around four per cent of all students.

Inhalant use was related to age. However, unlike the pattern seen for other substances, prevalence decreased significantly from the youngest to the oldest students. While around one-fifth (20%) of 12-year-old students had ever used inhalants, this proportion decreased to 11% for those aged 17 years.

Use within the past month decreased from 10% of 12-year-olds to four per cent of students aged 17 years.

There were some significant differences in the use of inhalants between male and female secondary school students with these differences generally concentrated among younger students. More females than males aged 12 and 13 had used inhalants in their lifetime, in the past year and in the past month. More 13-year-old girls than boys had used inhalants in the past week.

Regularity of use: Around half of the 13% of students who had used inhalants in the previous year had used them on only one or two occasions (50% of males and 47% of females). Around 23% of males and 22% of females indicated they had used inhalants 3–5 times in the previous year. Sixteen per cent of males and 17% of females who had used inhalants in the past year reported using them 10 or more times in that year.

Figure 5.4 shows the proportion of all male and female students in each age group having used inhalants 10 or more times in the past year. Regular use of inhalants among secondary school students is low, with around two per cent of 12-year-olds and around one per cent of 17-year-olds using these substances regularly.
Top of page

Figure 5.4: Proportion of all male and female students in each age group who used inhalants 10 or more times in the year before the survey, Australia, 2011 (%)


Column graph showing the proportion of all male and female students in each age group who used inhalants 10 or more times in the year before the survey.Description of Figure 5.4

5.4.1 Changes in the prevalence of inhalant use between 2005 and 2011

Among 12- to 15-year-olds, the 19% of students who had used inhalants in their lifetime in 2011 was no different from the proportion found in 2008 (20%) or 2005 (19%). In 2011, eight per cent of 12- to 15-year-old students had used inhalants in the previous month, which was similar to the nine per cent found in both 2008 and 2005. Among 16- to 17-year-olds, 13% of students had used inhalants in their lifetime and this was not significantly different from the 14% found in 2008 or the 11% in 2005. The proportion of older students reporting use in the previous month in 2011 (4%) was similar to the proportion in 2008 (5%) and 2005 (4%). When data were combined for students aged between 12 and 17 years, analyses found that the proportion of students using inhalants in their lifetime in 2011 (17%) was not significantly different from the proportion found in 2008 (19%) or 2005 (17%). For use in the past month, the seven per cent found in 2011 was not different from the proportions found in 2008 or 2005.

prev pageTOC |next page