Latest survey reveals extend of alcohol and drugs issue

The latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) has thrown up some expected and perhaps some unexpected stats about the use of alcohol and drugs by Australians. Credit Anton Mislawsky

Statistics from the latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) have been released and show the extent of the alcohol and drug issue in Australia. It also throws up some stats that may surprise you.

As highlighted on the Alcohol and Drug Foundation website, the NDSHS survey is held every three years and is the largest survey of its kind in Australia. It covers a range of topics and seeks to find out the alcohol and drug use of Australians, as well as their opinions.

The latest survey, conducted in 2022 and 2023, involved more than 21,000 people.

Alcohol and drugs survey findings

Here are some of the key findings from the latest survey:

  • Smoking of cigarettes continued to decrease, however, vaping, particularly among younger people, is continuing to grow. In the 18 – 24 age group, the use of vapes in 2019 was 5.3%. In the latest survey it ballooned to 21%, with 9.3% now vaping daily. The increase in vaping, particularly amongst young people, is prompting changes to vaping laws.
  • More than 30% of people reported drinking alcohol at risky levels.
  • Around 25% reported drinking more than 10 standard drinks per week, on average.
  • Around 20% of people over 14 reported experiencing harm from someone else’s drinking.
  • Drinking levels for males remained stable.
  • Drinking levels for females in some age groups rose. For example, by 7% in the 14 – 17 age group and by 5% in the 18 – 24 age group.
  • In general, the use of illicit drugs remained stable. The main increase was in the use of psychedelics, which increased from 1.6% to 2.4%. The most commonly use psychedelic changed from LSD to mushrooms/psilocybin.
  • Close to 1 in 2 people have now used an illicit drug in their lifetime.
  • Cannabis is by far the most used illicit drug, with 2.5 million people admitting to using the drug recently.
  • Drug use in young women appears to be increasing. Females aged 18–24 were as likely to have used illicit drugs in this survey as men of the same age. The percentage of women reporting drug use in this survey rose by 8%.
  • Here’s a finding that may surprise some – in the latest survey those in the lowest socioeconomic areas were least likely to drink at risky levels.
  • Similarly, those in the most advantaged area were more likely to have used illicit drugs.

Alcohol and drugs learnings from the survey

For organisations like the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, the survey provides an insight into Australia’s use of alcohol and drugs, its attitudes and experience of related harms. They’ll use the statistics to inform better responses and to prevent and reduce harm.

The survey will also provide governments and health services with a better understanding of attitudes towards alcohol and drug use. It will hopefully allow them to better target harm prevention and support measures.

What are the learnings for business owners, HR and Safety Managers, and other managers concerned with improving health and safety in the workplace?

Above all the key learning is that you need to properly manage alcohol and drugs in your workplace. This starts with having a robust and detailed alcohol and drug policy, that is updated regularly, educating your workforce on the dangers, supporting those with issues, and conducting drug and alcohol testing to identify people who are putting themselves and others in danger.

Contact Integrity Sampling if you are concerned about the potential impacts of alcohol and drugs in your workplace.

Note: You can find more details from the NDSHS on the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website.


The latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) has thrown up some expected and perhaps some unexpected stats about the use of alcohol and drugs by Australians. Credit Anton Mislawsky

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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