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

Najman, Jackob M., Toloo, Ghasem, & Williams, Gail M. (2008) Increasing socio-economic inequalities in drug-induced deaths in Australia : 1981-2002. Drug and Alcohol Review, 27(6), pp. 613-618.

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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. [Najman JM, Toloo G, Williams GM. Increasing socio-economic inequalities in drug-induced deaths in Australia: 1981–2002.

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3 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 28038
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Australia, Drug-induced death, Socio-economic status, Trend, 1981–2002
DOI: 10.1080/09595230801956108
ISSN: 0959-5236
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology not elsewhere classified (160899)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2008 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs
Deposited On: 16 Oct 2009 04:49
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2013 03:06

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