There were 14,086 hospitalisations with a drug-related principal diagnosis in Victoria in 2019-20, equivalent to 0.49% of all hospitalisations in Victoria.
This is equivalent to 212 hospitalisations per 100,000 people, which was a significant decrease from 2018-19 (217 hospitalisations per 100,000 people; p<0.001) (Table 1) but an increase from 1999-00 (190 hospitalisations per 100,000 people) (Figure 1).
The rate of hospitalisations was higher among males than females in 2019-20 (221 versus 203 hospitalisations per 100,000 people).
In 2019-20, the rate of hospitalisations was highest among the 20-29 age group, followed by the 30-39 and 40-49 age groups (429, 347, and 266 hospitalisations per 100,000 people, respectively).
Remoteness Area of Usual Residence
The highest rate of hospitalisations in 2019-20 was observed in outer regional Victoria (222 hospitalisations per 100,000 people), while the number of hospitalisations was highest in major cities (11,029 hospitalisations) (Figure 2).
External Cause of Drug Poisoning
In 2019-20, 47% of drug-related hospitalisations in Victoria were due to drug poisoning. Furthermore, 66% of drug poisoning related hospitalisations were intentional (67 hospitalisations per 100,000 people) and 21% were unintentional (20 hospitalisations per 100,000 people) (Figure 3).
Drug TypeIn 2019-20, the rate of hospitalisations was highest where there was a principal diagnosis indicating amphetamines and other stimulants (55 hospitalisations per 100,000 people) (Figure 4).
Compared to 2018-19, there were significant decreases in 2019-20 in the rates of hospitalisations related to opioids; non-opioid analgesics; multiple drug use; and antipsychotics and neuroleptics (p<0.050) (Table 1).
In contrast, there were significant increases in the rates of hospitalisations related to amphetamines and other stimulants; and antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic and antiparkinsonism drugs (p<0.050) (Table 1).
Figure 1. Age-standardised rate per 100,000 people of drug-related hospitalisations, by sex, Victoria, 1999-00 to 2019-20.
Note: From 1st July 2011 to 30th June 2013 (i.e., between 2011-12 and 2012-13), there was a large decrease in public hospitalisations reported for the Victorian Admitted Episodes Dataset (VAED) because episodes where the patient�s entire care is provided in the emergency department were not considered for admission, irrespective of whether a criterion for admission is met. From 2013-14 onwards, �ED-only admissions� were largely replaced with admissions to Short Stay Observation Units.
Figure 2. Age-standardised rate per 100,000 people of drug-related hospitalisations, by remoteness, Victoria, 2012-13 to 2019-20.
Note: The size (area) of the bubble is proportional to the number of hospitalisations. Data by remoteness are only available from 2012-13. The number of hospitalisations for remote and very remote Victoria in each year were small (less than or equal to 10) thus age-standardised rates were not calculated. Please refer to our methods document for details.
Figure 3. Age-standardised rate per 100,000 people of drug-related hospitalisations, by principal diagnosis of mental and behavioural disorder due to substance use (A) and external cause of poisoning (B), Victoria, 1999-00 to 2019-20.Note: Age-standardised rates were not calculated if the number of hospitalisations was less than or equal to 10 (please refer to our methods document for details). Suppressed data are visible as gaps in the data series.
Figure 4. Age-standardised rate per 100,000 people of drug-related hospitalisations, by drug identified in the principal diagnosis, Victoria, 1999-00 to 2019-20.
Table 1. Age-standardised rate per 100,000 people of drug-related hospitalisations in 2019-20 and rate ratio and p-value for difference compared to 2018-19, in Victoria by drug type identified in the principal diagnosis
||Age-standardised rate (95% CI)||2019-20 versus 2018-19|
|All drugs||212 (208,216)||217 (214,221)||0.97 (0.96,0.99)||<0.001|
|Amphetamines and other stimulants||55 (54,57)||53 (51,55)||1.05 (1.02,1.08)||<0.001|
|Antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic and antiparkinsonism drugs||39 (38,41)||32 (30,33)||1.24 (1.20,1.28)||<0.001|
|Opioids||26 (25,27)||32 (31,34)||0.81 (0.78,0.84)||<0.001|
|Non-opioid analgesics||24 (23,25)||25 (24,26)||0.95 (0.91,0.99)||0.015|
|Cannabinoids||19 (18,20)||19 (18,20)||1.02 (0.97,1.07)||0.446|
|Multiple drug use||14 (13,14)||21 (20,22)||0.65 (0.62,0.68)||<0.001|
|Antipsychotics and neuroleptics||13 (12,14)||15 (14,16)||0.88 (0.84,0.93)||<0.001|
|Antidepressants||13 (12,14)||13 (12,14)||1.03 (0.97,1.09)||0.302|
|Cocaine||4.1 ( 3.6, 4.6)||4.2 ( 3.8, 4.8)||0.95 (0.87,1.05)||0.354|
|Volatile solvents||2.5 ( 2.1, 2.9)||2.2 ( 1.9, 2.6)||1.12 (0.98,1.27)||0.089|
|Hallucinogens||1.8 ( 1.4, 2.1)||1.6 ( 1.3, 1.9)||1.12 (0.96,1.31)||0.150|
The Drug Trends program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the Drug and Alcohol Program.
We would like to acknowledge the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for data from the National Hospital Morbidity Database.
We thank Dr Louise Tierney and her team from the Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs Unit at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare for reviewing the report.
We would like to acknowledge the contribution of those who have been involved in past reporting on drug-related hospitalisations by Drug Trends, specifically: A/Prof Timothy Dobbins, Dr Amanda Roxburgh, and A/Prof Lucinda Burns.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which the work for this report was undertaken. We pay respect to Elders past, present, and emerging.
Chrzanowska, A., Man, N., Sutherland, R., Degenhardt, L. & Peacock, A. (2021). Trends in drug-related hospitalisations in Australia, 1999-2020. Sydney: National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW Sydney.
Hospitalisations data visualisations: https://drugtrends.shinyapps.io/hospital_separations
Hospitalisations methods document: https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/resource-analytics/trends-drug-related-hospitalisations-australia-1999-2020
For other Drug Trends publications on drug-related hospitalisations and drug-induced deaths, go to: https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/project/national-illicit-drug-indicators-project-nidip
For more information on NDARC research, go to: http://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/
For more information about the AIHW and NHMD, go to: https://www.aihw.gov.au/
For more information on ICD coding go to: http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/ https://www.ihpa.gov.au/what-we-do/icd-10-am-achi-acs-current-edition
For more research from the Drug Trends program go to: https://ndarc.med.unsw.edu.au/program/drug-trends