• Subject Name : Nursing

What Are the Significant Issues of Drug Addiction in Australia?

Introduction to Impact of Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use

Addiction is said to be a type of brain disorder in which an individual is defined by his/her compulsive behavior in which their actions have serious consequences. Addiction can be of different types, of which Drug Addiction is the most harmful and can also lead to the death of an individual. Drug addiction is often described as a character syndrome, which can also be seen as an international endemic, which has severe effects on individuals worldwide. Drug consumption differs from country to country (Saah, 2005). Drug addiction can further be said to a compulsive disorder in which drug-seeking and consumption is on an increased level, despite serious consequences (Cami, & Farre, 2003). The American Psychiatric Association (2000) states that the term substance dependence must meet at least three of the criteria out of the seven criteria, which are, Craving, Physical dependence, Priming, Relapse, Sensitization, Substance abuse, Substance dependence and lastly, Withdrawal Syndrome. Drugs can become a craving for its consumers, which is difficult to let go.

The Department of Health (2017) has stated that the illicit use of drugs in Australian communities affects all individuals, which include health impacts, mental and poisoning problems, violence, trauma, crimes, as well as law enforcement issues.

Thesis Statement

The purpose of this essay is to provide a detailed analysis on drug addiction and its various causes and problems as well as the situation that leads to drug addiction. For this reason, the paper will provide an analysis on drug addiction, the situations which lead to the consumption of drugs, its problems, causes, as well as the solutions to drug addiction, followed by a conclusion.


According to the report by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2018, in relation to the excessive use of drugs and sickness and grievance in Australia, illicit use of drugs contributed to approximately 2.3% of the entire problem of disease as well as wound in 2011 (AIHW, 2018). This further comprised of the use of opioids, cannabis, cocaine, injecting drugs and various extra types of drugs. Among this, one third, that is, 33% of the issues were from accidental poisoning, along with 31% of the issues are generated due to drug dependence (AIHW, 2018).

Further, the report by Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2016, the cerebral and material use impacts in 2011, were accountable for 12% of the entire issues related to health, which made it the third highest and troublesome cluster of illnesses, along with musculoskeletal conditions, at 12%; cancer, at 19%; and heart diseases at 15% respectively. The mental health issues were the most significant factors behind non-fatal burden, which accounted for almost 24% of the people suffering from the problems in all their living years. At the age of 44, mental and substance use disorders were the chief reasons of late infancy, puberty, as well as maturity. The individuals lost most of their life due to the disorders generated as a result of drug addiction (AIHW, 2016).

Additionally, the report by ABS (2017), in 2016, there were more than 1808 drug-related deaths, which was equal to 1.1% of the total deaths and was considered as the highest recorded death in the past 20 years.

Between 1999 and 2016, the number of death related to drug addiction increased rapidly, almost four times, which increased from 0.4 to 1.6 deaths per 10,000 people.

According to the NDSHS 2016, 43% of the individuals, that is 8.5 million people, aged 14 and above in Australia, made excessive use of drug at some point in their lives, which included various types of drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, meth, hallucinogens, heroin, ketamine and many more (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018).

Further, a statement by the AIHW (2017), stated that over 1 million people, that is, 4.8% people aged 14 and above, had made use of pharmacological medicines for non-medical purposes between 2017 and 2017, which included opioids, at 3.6% as well as sleeping pills, at 1.6%. In addition, majority of the people who consumed sleeping pills stated that they misused an ‘over-the-counter’ codeine product, which was at 75%. This was followed by codeine prescribed medicines at 40%.


There are various causes which lead to drug addiction such as their vulnerability, family problems, psychological factors, as well as social issues. These factors make the usage of drug for an individual very significant, even when its results may hamper their future and have severe consequences. These factors have been explained in details below:

  1. The major reason for their excessive drug consumption is their genetic vulnerability, where their interaction with their social peers may affect their consumption behavior. For example, the children of people who consume alcohol are more prone to becoming alcoholics in the future, where the children depict great levels of impulsivity (Kreek, et al. 2005).
  2. The cultural attitudes and the community in which an individual lives also affects his/her consumption patterns (Wilson, 2005). For example, student who attend a university or school, where there is the presence of a strong drinking culture, they have easier access to drugs and alcohol, which attracts them more (Sher and Rutledge, 2007).
  3. Individuals who have increased preference regarding immediate awards, that is, a drug, which gives immediate pleasure, are more prone to becoming drug addicts, despite the long term effects of drug addiction (Mackillop, 2016).
  4. Individuals who suffer more due to a deficit in skills, which reduces their emotional actions and becoming intolerant towards negative emotions, makes them more prone to becoming drug addicts. They become dependent on self-medication, to overcome social anxiety.
  5. They consume drugs when they do not want to experience pain, frustration, fear, as well as the other emotions, which are ingrained in a human (Mate, 2010).

Problems of Impact of Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use

There are different problems, which are related to drug addiction and consumption, which have adverse effects on the life of the individual. These are:

  1. Mental health: There is a significant link amid illegal usage of drugs and mental illness. It can have severe impact on an individual’s functioning, which also includes their relationships, work life, health as well as safety. Lawrence, et al. (2015) stated that 29% of young people aged between 13 to 17 years suffered from major depressive disorders who consumed cannabis. According to the report by AIHW (2017), 26% of the drug users had been provided treatment as well as were diagnosed with suffering from mental illness between 2016 and 2017.
  2. Psychological Suffering: Psychological suffering is advanced amongst people who illegally consume drugs than individuals who do not consume drugs. According to the AIHW (2017), there were higher levels of psychological distress which included:
  • 24% individuals who consumed cannabis
  • 37% individuals who consumed meth/ amphetamine
  • 22% individuals who consumed cocaine, and
  • 27% individuals who consumed ecstasy.
  1. It can lead to a weak immune system, which increases the chances of catching different viruses and infection.
  2. It can cause increased heart problems, such as increased heart rates, heart attacks, malformed veins and blood vessel contaminations
  3. Leads to increased pressure on the liver, which can lead to significant damage to the liver and affect the future of the individual
  4. Can cause memory loss, increased issues related to attention and decision-making
  5. Can cause the body temperature to increase, which can result in other health-related problems (Gateway Foundation, 2020)

Solutions of Impact of Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use

Drug addiction is a huge problem in today’s world and proper solutions must be introduced to overcome illegal use of drugs. The various solutions are:

  1. New treatments should be introduced to recover the results of the problems related to drug dependence and addiction. The healthcare providers should provide the treatment at lower costs so that a larger population can be reached for a cure (Degenhardt, Stockings, Strang, Marsden, & Hall, 2016).
  2. Community level care can be provided to the drug addicts, which can be helpful in reducing the effects of illegal drug use, opioid overdose, by introducing strategies such as overdose prevention education, emergency response education, as well as supervised injecting facilities (Degenhardt, Stockings, Strang, Marsden & Hall, 2016).
  3. Self-help and mutual aid groups can also act as significant factors in overcoming drug addiction. These groups include cocaine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Marijuana Anonymous. A SMART Recovery training (Self-Management And Recovery Training) provides the drug addicts with group-rehabilitation systems, who are either unwilling or unable to use a 12-step group process (Degenhardt, Stockings, Strang, Marsden, & Hall, 2016).
  4. Drug education can be provided to the youth and elders, where school-based training can be successful in providing an effective way of reducing drug usage and generate positive results in their life, which includes both internal and external problems (Degenhardt, Stockings, Strang, Marsden, & Hall, 2016).
  5. Cognitive behavioral therapy can be introduced to people suffering from drug addiction as it help them realize, recognize, avoid as well as survive in the situations and surroundings in which they will relapse and consume drugs (Degenhardt, Stockings, Strang, Marsden, & Hall, 2016).
  6. Family therapy is also another process in which the young people facing drug issues, face the effects on drug habit outlines as well as recover the general working of the family (National Institute of Drug Abuse, 2020).
  7. Peer support can also act as an important source of overcoming drug addiction. They help in providing non-professional, non-clinical help to their peers, and achieve long-term recovery from drug related problems as well as psychiatric and alcohol consumption (Tracy & Wallace, 2016).

Government Intervention

There are various steps which have been taken by the Government of Australia to keep drug addiction in check and take steps according to the results. They are:

  1. The National Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) is piloted every year in each state by including the research organizations in the country. It is synchronized along with the National Drug and Alcohol research Centre (NDARC) and then the results are published.
  2. The National Alcohol and Other Drugs Hotline has been set up by the government to keep a track of the drug addicts and provide help to them (Department of Health, 2020).
  3. Counselling Online is another option provided by the Government so that the drug addict can talk or email a counsellor for proper guidance (Department of Health. 2020).

Evaluation of Impact of Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use

The three solutions, which can be considered as advantageous, are:

  1. The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, as it allows the drug addict to be able to cope with his/her addiction
  2. Education about drugs, as it will provide all individuals information regarding the side effects of drugs.
  3. Family therapy is an advantage, as they will be able to help him/her in a better way.

The disadvantage is that the government intervention is not significant and it needs to be increased, as people are still consuming drugs at an alarming rate and it is affecting their health, which indirectly affects the Government.

Conclusion on Impact of Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use

The aim of this paper was to provide a detailed analysis on drug addiction in Australia and the ways to overcome it. For this reason, this paper has provided a detailed essay on the drug addiction, its causes, problems as well as the solutions to it. Thus, it can be said that drug addiction is a negative aspect in an individual’s life, which can have severe consequences.

References for Impact of Alcohol and Illicit Drug Use

ABS. (2017). Causes of death, Australia, 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2020, from https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Previousproducts/3303.0Quality%20Declaration02017

AIHW. (2016). Australian Burden of Disease Study: impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2011. Retrieved 29 August 2020, from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/abds-impact-and-causes-of-illness-death-2011/contents/highlights

AIHW. (2018). Impact of alcohol and illicit drug use on the burden of disease and injury in Australia: Australian Burden of Disease Study 2011 , Summary -. Retrieved 29 August 2020, from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/burden-of-disease/impact-alcohol-illicit-drug-use-on-burden-disease/contents/summary

American Psychiatric Association. (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. (DSM-IV) | American Journal of Psychiatry. Retrieved 29 August 2020, from https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/ajp.152.8.1228.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2018). Australia’s health 2018. Australia’s health series no. 16. AUS 221. Canberra: AIHW.

Cami, J., & Farre, M. (2003). Mechanisms of Disease: Drug Addiction, The New England Journal of Medicine, 349(10), 975-986.

Degenhardt, L., Stockings, E., Strang, J., Marsden, J., & Hall, W. (2016). Illicit Drug Dependence. In Patel, V. Chisholm, D., Dua T., et al. editors. Mental, Neurological, and Substance use Disorders: Disease Control Priorities, third Edition (Vol. 4). Washington (DC). Retrieved 29 August 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK361953/

Department of Health. (2017). The National Drug Strategy 2017–2026. Canberra: Department of Health.

Department of Health. (2020). How to reduce or quit drugs. Australian Government.

Gateway Foundation. (2020). Effects of drug abuse and addiction. Retrieved from https://www.gatewayfoundation.org/faqs/effects-of-drug-abuse/

Kreek, M., Nielsen, D., Butelman, E., & LaForge, K. (2005). Genetic influences on impulsivity, risk taking, stress responsivity and vulnerability to drug abuse and addiction. Nature Neuroscience, 8(11), 1450-1457. doi: 10.1038/nn1583

Lawrence, D., Johnson, S., Hafekost, J., Boterhoven de Haan, K., Sawyer, M., Ainley, J., et al. (2015). The mental health of children and adolescents. Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Canberra: Department of Health

MacKillop, J. (2016). The Behavioral Economics and Neuroeconomics of Alcohol Use Disorders. Alcoholism: Clinical And Experimental Research, 40(4), 672-685. doi: 10.1111/acer.13004

Mate, G. (2010). In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books

National Institute of Drug Abuse. (2020). Treatment and Recovery. In Drugs, brains, and behaviour: The Science of Addiction. National Institutes of Health. 

Saah, T. (2005). The evolutionary Origins and significance of drug addiction Harm Reduction Journal, 2(1), 8. doi: 10.1186/1477-7517-2-8

Sher, K., & Rutledge, P. (2007). Heavy drinking across the transition to college: Predicting first-semester heavy drinking from precollege variables. Addictive Behaviors, 32(4), 819-835. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2006.06.024

Tracy, K., & Wallace, S. P. (2016). Benefits of Peer Support groups in the treatment of addiction, Subst Abuse Rehabil, 7, 143-154. https://dx.doi.org/10.2147%2FSAR.S81535

Wilson, T. M. (2005). Drinking Cultures: Alcohol and Identity. Oxford, Berg.

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