Illicit Drug Use ‘Six Times Higher’ Among Gay And Bisexual Australians


Gay, lesbian and bisexual Australians show higher rates of drug use than their heterosexual peers, according to new data.

The research by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows people who identify as homosexual or bisexual are six times more likely to use ecstasy or methamphetamines, including ice and speed, than heterosexual people.

“Homosexual and bisexual people were also about four times as likely to use cocaine as heterosexual people and three times more likely to use cannabis or misuse pharmaceutical drugs,” AIHW spokesperson Matthew James said.

The figures are from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016, which involves 24,000 people from right across the country.

In 2016, the most commonly used illegal drugs – used at least once in the past 12 months – were cannabis (10.4%), followed by cocaine (2.5%), ecstasy (2.2%) and meth/amphetamines (1.4%).

But among those Australians using an illegal drug weekly or more often last year, meth/amphetamines (including ice) was the second most commonly used illegal drug after cannabis.

Most meth/amphetamine users used ice as their main form, more than doubling from 22% of recent meth/amphetamine users in 2010 to 57% in 2016.

The report also found that among recent illicit drug users, about 27% had been diagnosed or treated for a mental illness – an increase from 21% in 2013, with rates particularly high among methamphetamine and ecstasy users.

“In 2016, 42% of meth/amphetamine users had a mental illness, up from 29% in 2013, while the rate of mental illness among ecstasy users also rose from 18% to 27%,” Mr James explained.

“Drug use is a complex issue, and it’s difficult to determine to what degree drug use causes mental health problems, and to what degree mental health problems give rise to drug use.”

The full report is available on the AIHW website.

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