Drug Use Down Under: Cocaine Substance Abuse Statistics in Australia

The use of cocaine continues to be a problem for many countries around the globe, and Australia is certainly not exempt from this unfortunate substance abuse trend.

In 2010, the National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that 7.3% of Australians aged 14+ years had used cocaine at some time in their life, and that the average age at which Australians first tried cocaine was 23.3 years.

cocaine useOther key findings from the same NDSHS survey include the following:

  • Recent cocaine use had been increasing since 2004, and this trend continued in 2010 with an increase in recent use, from 1.6% in 2007 to 2.1% in 2010
  • Noteworthy increases were seen among females overall and particularly females between ages 20–29 years
  • People who recently used cocaine were more likely than non-users to have been diagnosed with or treated for a mental illness, or have high levels of psychological distress (17.5% for recent users compared with 9.7% for non-users)

Regarding the frequency of cocaine use, at that point over 60% of most recent users used cocaine once or twice a year. Males were more likely than females to use cocaine every few months or more; throughout the period from 1995 to 2010, males aged 20–29 years were consistently the most likely group to have used cocaine in the previous 12 months.

There was a statistically significant increase between 2007 and 2010 in the proportion of people 14+ years or older who had used cocaine in the previous year. This resulted in an additional 100,000 people using cocaine in 2010 (from 280,000 in 2007 to 390,000 in 2010).

Cocaine Substance Abuse Statistics and Age

Of people aged 14 years or older, more than 7% had used cocaine in their lifetime, and 2.1% (or about 390,000) had used it during the previous year. Cocaine use was highest among:

• males aged 14 years or older, who were almost twice as likely as females to have used cocaine in the preceding year

• those aged 30–39 years, who were most likely to have ever used cocaine (14.4%), particularly males (16.9%); this was closely followed by those aged 20–29 years (14.1%)

• people aged 20–29 years, who were the most likely recent users for both males (7.8%) and females (5.0%)

Cocaine Use Continues, Despite Illegality and Cost

An article published in the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that cocaine is an expensive, illegal substance in Australia, which should have contributed to a predictable decline in the substance abuse statistics for the country.

A survey conducted in 2013, however, found that at least 20% of the 6,600 Australian respondents had used cocaine within the past year and 45% indicated the use of cocaine at least once in their lifetime.


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