Australian men and substance use
In 2010, there were 157,132 hospitalisations attributable to alcohol, of which 101,425 were males.1 For males, injuries were responsible for the highest proportion of alcohol-related deaths (36%), followed by cancers (25%) and digestive diseases (16%).1
The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that males were far more likely than females to drink alcohol in quantities that placed them at risk from a single occasion of drinking (47% compared with 27% for women). It also found that males were likely to consume alcohol in quantities that exceeded the guidelines more often than women, with 20% of men consuming these quantities at least weekly.2
The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that males were more likely to have ever used illicit drugs than females (46% and 38% respectively).2
Of the 2.7 million people in Australia who had used an illicit drug in the previous 12 months, 1.5 million were male, with 18.1% of all males having used an illicit drug in the previous 12 months.2
The survey also found that since the previous survey, in 2010, there had been a significant increase in illicit drug use by males aged 60 or older (from 5.5% to 7.5%).2
The 2013 survey found that males were more likely than females to use cannabis at any frequency.In comparison to the 2010 survey, males aged 60 or older were twice as likely to use cannabis in 2013 (increasing from 0.8% to 1.8%).2
In 2013, males were more likely to have used meth/amphetamines in their lifetime (8.6%) and in the last 12 months (2.7%). Recent use of meth/amphetamines among males had declined since 2001 but remained stable between 2010 and 2013 at around 2.5%.2
The 2013 survey found that males were twice as likely as females to have used cocaine in the preceding 12 months (2.9% and 1.4% respectively for those aged 14 or older). In the period 2001 to 2013, males aged 20–29 were consistently the most likely to have used cocaine in the previous 12 months; use increased from 5.2% to 7.3% over this period but was stable between 2010 and 2013.2
There was a small rise in the proportion of people aged 40 or older using cocaine between 2010 and 2013 (from 0.4% to 0.7%), but this rise was significant only for males (from 0.6% to 1.1%).2
In 2013, 4.7% of Australians aged 14 or older had misused a pharmaceutical drug in the previous 12 months, which was a rise from 4.2% in 2010. However, the increase was far more significant for males (from 4.1% in 2010 to 5.1% in 2013) than females.2
The rise in pharmaceutical misuse was mainly due to an increase in males in their 30s (4.5% in 2010 to 6.9% in 2013) and females in their 40s (3.1% in 2010 to 4.5% in 2013) misusing these drugs.2
Historically, recent pharmaceutical misuse was very similar between the sexes. However, in 2013 males reported a higher proportion of recent use, and showed the largest difference in overall use between the sexes for any year since 2001.2
Males were more likely to have used pharmaceuticals for non-medical purposes in the last 12 months (5.1%) and this was true across all pharmaceutical drug types.2
The 2013 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that males were more likely to smoke daily than females across all jurisdictions except South Australia (12.5% compared with 13.1% for females) and that the rates for males and females were similar in the Australian Capital Territory (9.7% and 9.6% respectively).2
In 2013–14 around 119,000 people received publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment. About 2 in 3 of these were male (67%). Where cannabis was the principal drug of concern, nearly three-quarters of those receiving publicly funded treatment were male (73%).3
1. Gao, C., Ogeil, R.P., & Lloyd, B. (2014). Alcohol's burden of disease in Australia. Canberra: FARE and VicHealth in collaboration with Turning Point.
2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2014). National Drug Strategy Household Survey detailed report 2013. Canberra: AIHW.
3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2015). Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2013–14. Canberra: AIHW.
Last updated: 2 June 2016