There were 6,389 hospitalisations with a drug-related principal diagnosis in Western Australia in 2019-20, equivalent to 0.57% of all hospitalisations in Western Australia.
This is equivalent to 249 hospitalisations per 100,000 people, which was a significant increase from 2018-19 (246 hospitalisations per 100,000 people; p=0.027) (Table 1) and higher than the rate in 1999-00 (209 hospitalisations per 100,000 people) (Figure 1).
The rate of hospitalisations was higher among females than males in 2019-20 (258 versus 242 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 (506, 413, and 322 hospitalisations per 100,000 people, respectively).
Remoteness Area of Usual Residence
The highest rate of hospitalisations in 2019-20 was observed in outer regional Western Australia (359 hospitalisations per 100,000 people), while the number of hospitalisations was highest in major cities (4,603 hospitalisations) (Figure 2).
External Cause of Drug Poisoning
In 2019-20, 49% of drug-related hospitalisations in Western Australia were due to drug poisoning. Furthermore, 66% of drug poisoning related hospitalisations were intentional (80 hospitalisations per 100,000 people) and 28% were unintentional (33 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 (81 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; and non-opioid analgesics (p<0.050) (Table 1).
In contrast, there were significant increases in the rates of hospitalisations related to amphetamines and other stimulants; antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic and antiparkinsonism drugs; antidepressants; and cocaine (p<0.050) (Table 1).
Figure 1. Age-standardised rate per 100,000 people of drug-related hospitalisations, by sex, Western Australia, 1999-00 to 2019-20.
Figure 2. Age-standardised rate per 100,000 people of drug-related hospitalisations, by remoteness, Western Australia, 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.
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), Western Australia, 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, Western Australia, 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.
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 Western Australia by drug type identified in the principal diagnosis
||Age-standardised rate (95% CI)||2019-20 versus 2018-19|
|All drugs||249 (243,256)||246 (240,252)||1.01 (1.00,1.03)||0.027|
|Amphetamines and other stimulants||81 (77,84)||77 (73,80)||1.06 (1.03,1.08)||<0.001|
|Antiepileptic, sedative-hypnotic and antiparkinsonism drugs||37 (35,39)||35 (33,37)||1.06 (1.02,1.09)||<0.001|
|Opioids||26 (24,28)||28 (26,30)||0.94 (0.91,0.98)||0.002|
|Non-opioid analgesics||25 (23,27)||29 (26,31)||0.88 (0.85,0.92)||<0.001|
|Cannabinoids||22 (20,24)||22 (20,24)||1.00 (0.96,1.05)||0.824|
|Antipsychotics and neuroleptics||18 (17,20)||18 (17,20)||0.99 (0.95,1.04)||0.677|
|Multiple drug use||18 (17,20)||18 (16,19)||1.03 (0.98,1.08)||0.239|
|Antidepressants||17 (15,18)||16 (14,17)||1.05 (1.00,1.11)||0.036|
|Volatile solvents||2.5 ( 2.0, 3.2)||2.3 ( 1.8, 3.0)||1.10 (0.97,1.25)||0.133|
|Hallucinogens||1.7 ( 1.2, 2.3)||1.5 ( 1.0, 2.0)||1.17 (1.00,1.37)||0.055|
|Cocaine||0.9 ( 0.5, 1.3)||0.4 ( 0.2, 0.8)||2.01 (1.55,2.62)||<0.001|
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