Increasing cocaine use amongst employed Australians: who is most at-risk?

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Australian’s cocaine use is at record levels. Large increases occurred between 2016– 2019, with significant increases predominately found among employed Australians. Patterns, and prevalence of workers’ cocaine use were examined using the 2016 and 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey data via frequency analyses. Logistic regression modelling identified predictors of employed Australian’s: cocaine use (2019); and increased use over time (2016–2019). Workers’ cocaine use increased 63% between 2016–2019 (3.8%–6.2%). Predictors of use, and increased use, were age, marital status, state, remoteness, smoking status, alcohol use, and cocaine approval level. Income and psychological distress predicted cocaine use in 2019 only. Highest prevalence in 2019 occurred among workers who approved of regular cocaine use (47.9%), currently smoked (14.9%), were very highly distressed (14.0%), risky alcohol consumers (13.7%), and aged 18–24 years (13.9%). Numerous individual-level characteristics influence workers’ cocaine use. Workplace cultural norms and substance use climates may facilitate increased cocaine use. The workplace is a powerful setting for cocaine prevention and intervention efforts. Potential strategies include targeting social norms, shifting positive drug use workplace cultures, and providing health and safety training focussing on the risk of use to self and co-workers whilst also examining demographic subgroups’ motivations for use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-577
Number of pages11
JournalIndustrial Health
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Australia
  • Cocaine
  • Epidemiology
  • Illicit drug use
  • Workforce


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