National Drug Strategy
National Drug Strategy

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

5.8 Opiates

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Table 5.16 illustrates the use of opiates other than for medical reasons over lifetime, past year and past month by age and gender.

Table 5.16: Opiates: Percentage of students in each age and gender grouping using opiates other than for medical reasons in each recency category, Australia, 2011#

Never used
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
97.9
98.9
98.4
97.4
98.8
98.2
98.3
Females
98.5
98.3
98.4
98.8
98.5
98.6
98.5
Total
98.2
98.6
98.4
98.1
98.7
98.4
98.4
Ever used
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
2.1
1.1
1.6
2.6
1.2
1.8
1.7
Females
1.5
1.7
1.6
1.2
1.5
1.4
1.5
Total
1.8
1.4
1.6
1.9
1.3
1.6
1.6
Past year
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
1.7
0.6
1.0
0.8
0.8
1.3
1.0
Females
0.8
1.2
0.9
0.8
1.0
0.8
0.9
Total
1.2
0.9
1.0
0.8
0.9
1.1
1.0
Past month
12 yrs
(%)
13 yrs
(%)
14 yrs
(%)
15 yrs
(%)
16 yrs
(%)
17 yrs
(%)
Total
(%)
Males
1.6
0.3
0.5
0.3
0.6
1.0
0.7
Females
0.3
0.5
0.3
0.2
0.4
0.5
0.4
Total
0.9
0.4
0.4
0.3
0.5
0.7
0.5

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., 2011#"

A small proportion (<2%) of secondary school students reported that they had ever used opiates or narcotics such as heroin or morphine other than for medical reasons.

One per cent of students reported using opiates in the past year.
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Regularity of use: Of the one per cent of students who reported having used opiates in the year prior to the survey, 54% had used these substances only once or twice.

5.8.1 Changes in the prevalence of opiate use between 2005 and 2011

Table 5.17 shows the proportion of students indicating they had used opiates in their lifetime or in the past month, in 2005, 2008 and 2011.

Table 5.17: Percentage of students who had used opiates in their lifetime and in the past month in 2005, 2008 and 2011, Australia

12 to 15 years

Lifetime
2005
(%)
2008
(%)
2011
(%)
Males
2.7
2.1
1.9
Females
2.2
1.9
1.5
Total
2.5
2.0
1.7

16 to 17 years

Lifetime
2005
(%)
2008
(%)
2011
(%)
Males
2.5
2.9**
1.5
Females
2.1
1.8
1.4
Total
2.3**
2.3**
1.4

Total

Lifetime
2005
(%)
2008
(%)
2011
(%)
Males
2.7
2.3
1.7
Females
2.2**
1.9
1.5
Total
2.4**
2.1
1.6

12 to 15 years

Past month
2005
(%)
2008
(%)
2011
(%)
Males
1.5
1.0
0.7
Females
0.7
0.6
0.3
Total
1.1
0.8
0.5

16 to 17 years

Past month
2005
(%)
2008
(%)
2011
(%)
Males
1.4
1.4
0.8
Females
0.4
0.5
0.4
Total
0.9
1.0
0.6

Total

Past month
2005
(%)
2008
(%)
2011
(%)
Males
1.5
1.2
0.7
Females
0.6
0.6**
0.4
Total
1.0**
0.9
0.5

** Significantly different from 2011 at p <0.01.

In general the proportion of younger students reporting to have used opiates in their lifetime and in the past month had not changed between 2005 and 2011. There was a decrease in the proportion of older students reporting to have used opiates in their lifetime between 2008 and 2011 (p<0.01) and between 2005 and 2011 (p<0.01). When data were combined across the two age groups, there was a significant decrease in the proportion of 12- to 17-year-old students reporting to have used opiates in their life (p<0.01) and in the past month (p<0.01) between 2005 and 2011 but not between 2008 and 2011.

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