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Trends in drug use among adolescents admitted to residential treatment in Australia

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In Australia, trends in drug use are primarily measured through two population surveys.1,2 These show alcohol, cannabis and tobacco to be the most commonly used drugs among adolescents. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey found that methamphetamine use has remained very low (2%) and stable among 14–19 year olds, with no rise in methamphetamine use overall in the population; however, there was a change in the main form, with crystal (“ice”) replacing powder.2

Population-level surveys are not sensitive to changes in use of drugs, which have a low prevalence in the general population by different age groups. Our report examines trends in reported current drug use and drug of greatest concern among an adolescent population admitted to four residential treatment sites across New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory from 2009 to 2014. These young people are likely to be excluded from population surveys.3

The study sample included 865 adolescents, aged 14–18 years, admitted to residential treatment between 1 July 2009 and 31 December 2014, representing a large proportion of the adolescent residential treatment population in NSW and the ACT.4 Analyses included log-binomial regression for trends by admission year…