Talking about your generation

Australian adults aged over 35 have become the nation’s leading drug and alcohol users.

Rebellious kids and teenagers are off the hook for now, with a government report finding the nation’s biggest smokers, drinkers and drug users are their parents and grandparents.

The latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) has found illicit drug use has nearly doubled among adults in their 60s over the last 16 years, with the trend also rising among those aged 35-44 and 45-54.

More than 16% of Australian adults aged 40-49 were reportedly using illicit drugs in 2016, a small increase over their younger counterparts aged 14-19 (15.9%).

The report found that irrespective of age, cannabis was the most commonly used drug, followed by the misuse of pharmaceuticals, cocaine and ecstasy.

Methylamphetamine use had fallen across with board, with only 0.8% of Australians now using the illicit substance, however, the use of ‘ice’ has skyrocketed by 22% since 2010.

University of Queensland School of Public Health Emeritus Professor Jake Najman said while the figures may appear low, the purity of illicit drugs is higher than ever.

“The results indicate that the use of amphetamines has declined, but those who are using are receiving a much purer form,” he said.

“The stuff out there has a much higher concentration, is very addictive and dangerous.”

The NDSHS also found that parents’ and grandparents’ alcohol consumption rose significantly in 2016, with 20% of over 50s now drinking at dangerous levels compared with 18.5% of 18- 24-year-olds and 1.3% of those aged 12-17.

Prof. Najman said more work needed to be done in educating Australians on the effects of alcohol and excessive drinking.

“The harm we see with alcohol is worse than with drugs,” he said.

“In Australia, we are estimating that 4500 Australians are dying each year as a consequence of consuming alcohol.

“The only thing that’s worse is tobacco.”

In a move which is sure to delight parents, a growing proportion of teens have elected to abstain from alcohol, with 82% of teenagers now opting not to drink, up from 72% in 2013.

The trend was also mirrored with smoking, with 98% of teenagers having never smoked (up from 95% in 2015). Adults aged 40-49 were found to be the heaviest smokers, with more than 22% smoking daily.