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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2008 Nov;27(6):613-8. doi: 10.1080/09595230801956108.

Increasing socio-economic inequalities in drug-induced deaths in Australia: 1981-2002.

Author information

1
School of Social Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. j.najman@uq.edu.au

Abstract

INTRODUCTION AND AIMS:

Since the 1990s illicit drug use death rates in Australia have increased markedly. There is a notable gap in knowledge about changing socio-economic inequalities in drug use death rates. Some limited Australian and overseas data point to higher rates of drug death in the lowest socio-economic groups, but the paucity of available studies and their sometimes conflicting findings need to be addressed.

DESIGN AND METHODS:

This paper uses data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to examine changes in age-standardised drug-induced mortality rates for Australian males over the period 1981-2002. Socio-economic status was categorised as manual or non-manual work status.

RESULTS:

With the rapid increase in drug-induced mortality rates in the 1990s, there was a parallel increase in socio-economic inequalities in drug-induced deaths. The decline in drug death rates from 2000 onwards was associated with a decline in socio-economic inequalities. By 2002, manual workers had drug death rates well over twice the rate of non-manual workers.

DISCUSSION:

Three factors are identified which contribute to these socio-economic inequalities in mortality. First, there has been an age shift in deaths evident only for manual workers. Secondly, there has been an increase in availability until 1999 and a relative decline in the cost of the drug, which most often leads to drug death (heroin). Thirdly, there has been a shift to amphetamine use which may lead to significant levels of morbidity, but few deaths.

PMID:
19378445
DOI:
10.1080/09595230801956108
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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