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Abstract

The use of both licit and illicit drugs has been identified as a major health issue for Australian Aborigines. However, data on the proportion of people who use such drugs is scant. This cross-sectional survey of a randomly selected sample of urban Aboriginal people provides information on the use of the drugs alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, heroin as well as petrol sniffing. Overall, a significantly smaller proportion of Aboriginal people were found to be current alcohol drinkers compared to non-Aboriginal Australians. A larger proportion of these drinkers were, however, found to be drinking at levels that were hazardous to their health. A significantly greater proportion of people from the Aboriginal sample were also found to be smokers compared to their non-Aboriginal counterparts. An examination of the use of the illicit substances revealed that a greater proportion reported they had ever used marijuana, compared to the other substances. The findings are discussed in terms of their implications for the health of Aboriginal people.