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How many young Australians use illegal drugs?

How many young people aged 12–17 used illegal drugs

It may be shown differently by the media, but the truth is that most young people have never tried an illegal drug. This is important because if young people think that most of their friends use drugs they might be more inclined to try drugs as well. The following table outlines how many young people have used illegal drugs.


Opiates (e.g., heroin)





1 in 7     (13.6%)

1 in 90  (1.1%)

1 in 38    (2.6%)

1 in 45    (2.2%)

1 in 52    (1.9%)

1 in 71    (1.4%)

Evidence Base

Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (2016). Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances in 2014. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Victoria.

  • Credit to 2&2 for the 'Avoiding Drugs?' infographic.