Drug use disorders top 10 cause of disability in Australia 2015

Image - Drug use disorders top 10 cause of disability in Australia 2015
Date Published:
10 Oct 2016

Australia is one of only two high-income countries (and USA) where drug use disorders were a top 10 cause of disability, according to modelling by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW published today in a six-part series in the Lancet on the Global Burden of Disease. The study has found that deaths and disability related to illicit drug use have increased by nearly a third over the past 10 years globally.

NDARC’s Professor Louisa Degenhardt (pictured) co-chaired the Expert Group on mental disorders and illicit drug use for the 2010 Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study and has been on the core analytic team ever since, including for GBD 2015.

  • Australia is one of only two high-income countries (and USA) where drug use disorders were a top 10 cause of disability.
  • Deaths due to illicit drug use have increased by 32 per cent in the 10 years to 2015 – the majority of this increase (72%) has been driven by increases in opioid deaths.
  • 46.4 million people worldwide are estimated to be dependent on illicit drugs in 2015 – an increase of 16.3 per cent since 2005.
  • Years of life lost and years lived with disability – increased significantly for drug use disorders over time.
  • Tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use among the largest risk factors; illicit drug use was an increasing cause of disability due to increasing global prevalence (30% increase in exposure) across 1990-2015. By contrast tobacco and alcohol attributable burden fell slightly.

The full media release is available HERE with links to the Lancet papers.