A new research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare show drinking, tobacco use and illicit drug taking is declining among young people but parents and grandparents are consuming more.The data from the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey found the percentage of over 40s who used illicit drugs rose from 14 to 16.2 percent between 2013 and 2016.Of people aged between 14 and 19, only 15.9 percent are using illicit drugs. Meanwhile, during the last 16 years’ illicit drug use almost doubled among the over 60 age group.While more teens are abstaining from alcohol, the figures revealed 20 percent of over 50s drank at a risky levels in 2016 compared to just 1.3 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds and 18.5 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds.Also, teenagers are also rejecting cigarettes.The data was collected over a three-year period and includes information from almost 24,000 Australians from various demographics and with different opinions on smoking, alcohol and drugs.The research found 98 percent of teens claim to have never smoked in 2016, compared to 95 percent in 2013. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare however reiterated that while teenagers are turning away from alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, drug use among older Australians has risen. The most common recently used drugs are cannabis at 10 percent, cocaine at three percent and ecstasy at two percent. While methamphetamine use has lowered, a high number of Australians are opting for the crystalline form of the drug, commonly known as ice.In 2016, 57 percent of methamphetamine users were mainly using ice, compared to 22 percent in 2010, highlighting the seriousness of the Australia’s ice epidemic.Methamphetamine use has also overtaken alcohol abuse are the Australia’s biggest concern. Researchers found that those who mainly used ice did so much more frequently than ecstasy and cocaine users.Only two and three percent cent of ecstasy and cocaine users used the drugs weekly, but at least 32 percent of ice users are getting high once a week.
Reading through the report, it is clear that alcohol and drug use continues to evolve. Trauma continues to be a major factor for individuals and communities who find themselves facing the challenge of alcohol and other drug misuse. To help overcome this, Australian government need to focus on building safe, healthy, and resilient communities.I know that strong communities are the best way to prevent future harms. Stakeholders ongoing work to align with the government drug strategy that declares efforts to promote social inclusion and resilient individuals, families and communities are a key objective within the demand reduction pillar.Bringing expert knowledge and research into the design and implementation of government programs will help reach millions of Australians in their communities by supporting and informing drug and alcohol prevention programs, and through the provision of educational information.Supporting communities to build their capacity to create change and determine their own futures can go along way in addressing old age drinking and alcoholic life. Government should design programs with the community, valuing their strengths and uniqueness. It is also my view that community development frameworks and strong alliances that benefit communities will help deliver positive outcomes and strengthen collective impact. It is very sad to see grand mothers and fathers drinking their way to death as this report shows and there is need to have an approach that will reflect an organisational culture of collaboration and innovation.Government should constantly engage in dialogue and implement policy reforms that support the needs of communities affecting by alcohol and drugs. You can read more about the report published few moments ago here.