Minimising the harm of illicit drug use among young adults

Exploring the data and the strategies that work
Illegal drugs Recreational drugs Drug harmfulness Drug use Australia

Young adults aged 18-25 are the most likely to have used illicit drugs in the past 12 months of any age group in Australia. We know that some subgroups of young adults are more likely to use drugs in ways that put them at high risk of harm.

The aims of this research were two-fold:

  1. To understand the extent, settings, patterns of use and commonly used drug types by young adults in Australia and identify high-risk subgroups and behaviours most likely to benefit from harm reduction efforts.
  2. To know what works in terms of effective harm reduction messaging for young adults.

Relevant data sources were reviewed to better understand illicit drug use patterns in Australian young adults, including the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) and the 2019 Ecstasy and Related Drugs Reporting System (EDRS).

A narrative review of evidence for harm reduction messaging for young adults who are already using illicit drugs (rather than preventing uptake) was also undertaken to determine the most effective types of messaging interventions and delivery modes for this age-group.

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