Licit psychostimulant consumption in Australia, 1984–2000: international and jurisdictional comparison

Constantine G Berbatis, V Bruce Sunderland and Max Bulsara
Med J Aust 2002; 177 (10): 539-543.


Objectives: To examine trends in the licit consumption of the psychostimulants dexamphetamine and methylphenidate in Australia and nine other countries from 1994 to 2000 and in each State and Territory of Australia from 1984 to 2000.

Design: Annual rates of consumption of psychostimulants were compared using Poisson regression models. All drug consumption was standardised to defined daily doses per 1000 population per day.

Main outcome measures: Rates of consumption of each psychostimulant in each country and in each Australian State and Territory.

Results: For the 10 countries from 1994 to 2000, total psychostimulant consumption increased by an average 12% per year, with the highest increase from 1998 to 2000. Australia and New Zealand ranked third in total psychostimulant use after the United States and Canada. Australia consumed significantly more than the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, France or Denmark. In Australia, from 1984 to 2000, the rate of consumption of licit psychostimulants increased by 26% per year, with an 8.46-fold increase from 1994 to 2000. Western Australia ranked first, with nearly twice the consumption rate of total psychostimulants as New South Wales, which ranked second. Methylphenidate is the main psychostimulant consumed in the US and Canada, and dexamphetamine in Australia.

Conclusions: The consumption of psychostimulants in Australia is high internationally and varies significantly between States and Territories. The results imply varied jurisdictional prescribing determinants and supply processes throughout Australia, which may require new national prescribing standards and access to online patient data for prescribers and dispensers.

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  • Constantine G Berbatis1
  • V Bruce Sunderland2
  • Max Bulsara3

  • 1 Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA.
  • 2 University of Western Australia, Perth, WA.



The Treaties and Monitoring Unit (Barton, ACT) provided annual data on the forms and strengths of dexamphetamine and methylphenidate in Australia by State and Territory from 1984 to 2000. The International Narcotics Control Board (Vienna, Austria) provided annual data in kg for dexamphetamine and methylphenidate consumed by each of the 10 countries from 1994 to 2000.

Competing interests:

None identified.

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