Knowledge and Resource Hub
08 January 2018

Non-medical use of pharmaceuticals: Trends, harms and treatment 2006-07 to 2015-16

This report from the AIHW examines the non-medical use of prescription or over-the-counter pharmaceutical drugs for non-therapeutic purposes. The report noted that the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals is common. About 1 million Australians (4.8%) aged 14 years or older reported misusing a pharmaceutical drug in the previous 12 months. Prescriptions for opioid analgesics has also continued to increase, with a 24% increase from 2010-11 to 2014-15.  Chronic pain, very high levels of psychological distress and mental illness was found to be higher amongst people with recent non-medical use of a pharmaceutical. Drug-induced deaths where benzodiazepines or other opioids like oxycodone and codeine were present, has more than doubled over the past decade. Also, over the past decade, drug-induced deaths are more likely due to prescription drugs than to illicit drugs.