Illicit and injecting drug use among Indigenous young people in urban, regional and remote Australia

Joanne Bryant, James Ward, Handan Wand, Kat Byron, Andrew Bamblett, Peter Waples-Crowe, Sarah Betts, Tony Coburn, Dea Delaney-Thiele, Heather Worth, John Kaldor, Marian Pitts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction and Aims: To examine patterns of illicit drug use among Australian Indigenous young people, identify correlates of frequent use separately in urban, regional and remote settings and characterise those who inject. Design and Method: Cross-sectional design at 40 Indigenous events. Self-complete surveys were administered to Indigenous people aged 16–29 years using mobile devices. Results: 2,877 participants completed the survey. One in five reported using cannabis at least weekly in the previous year, but the use of other drugs was less prevalent. Patterns of drug use were largely similar across regions, although more participants in urban and regional areas reported using ecstasy (12% vs 11% vs 5%) and cocaine (6% vs 3% vs 1%) and more reported weekly cannabis use (18% vs 22% vs 14%). Injecting was rare (3%) but those who did inject reported a high incidence of needle sharing (37%). Methamphetamine (37%), heroin (36%) and methadone (26%) were the most commonly injected drugs, and injecting was related to prison experience (AOR 5.3 95% CI 2.8–10.0). Discussion and Conclusion: Attention is needed in relation to cannabis use, particularly among those Indigenous young people living in regional and urban settings. Also, although injecting is uncommon, it is associated with prison involvement. Priority must be given to reducing the numbers of Indigenous youth entering justice settings, delaying the age at first entry to justice settings, and reducing the risk of BBV acquisition while in custody through, for example, prison-based NSP, BBV education, and Indigenous-specific treatment that emphasises connection to country and culture. [Bryant J, Ward J, Wand H, Byron K, Bamblett A, Waples-Crowe P, Betts S, Coburn T, Delaney-Thiele D, Worth H, Kaldor J, Pitts M. Illicit and injecting drug use among Indigenous young people in urban, regional and remote Australia. Drug Alcohol Rev 2016;35:447–455].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-455
Number of pages9
JournalDrug and Alcohol Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Australia
  • illicit drug use
  • Indigenous
  • injecting drug use
  • young people


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