Module 5: young people, society and AOD: learner's workbook

4.2 Comparing AOD use patterns of young people and adults

Page last updated: 2004

Use of popular recreational drugs
Factors associated with smoking

Use of popular recreational drugs

The three most popular recreational drugs in Australia are alcohol, tobacco and cannabis, generally in that order. This is true for both young people and adults.

Look at these statistics comparing lifetime AOD use among young people and the general population from National Drug Strategy Household Survey, 2001.

This figure suggests that if young people start to use alcohol and tobacco before they are 20 they are likely to keep using these drugs when they become adults. The table also suggests that cannabis use is slightly higher among young people than in the general population.

Figure 1: Lifetime use of the drug

Text equivalent below for Figure 1: Lifetime use of the drug

source: NDSH, 1998

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Text version of Figure 1

Figures in this description are approximate as they have been read from the graph.
14 - 19 years of ageAll ages

Factors associated with smoking

The level of tobacco smoking among young people remains a major problem in Australia despite a generation of effort and funding from state and national governments to prevent them from taking up smoking. While there was a reduction in youth smoking rates in the 1980s, smoking rates have risen again since the early 1990s. Smoking is the largest cause of preventable illness and death in Australia. People who start smoking in their teens smoke at a heavier level and are less likely to quit in adulthood. Children of smoking adults are more likely to smoke.

Smoking is strongly associated with social factors, and people from the following groups more likely to smoke:
  • lower socio-economic regions
  • unemployed
  • blue collar workers
  • residents of rural areas

Tobacco use and socio-economic status

Task - writing exercise

Question - What might be some of the reasons that people from certain groups are more likely to smoke?