Territorians the biggest drug users in Australia

New stats reveal one in five Territorians used at least one illicit drug in 2016.
New stats reveal one in five Territorians used at least one illicit drug in 2016.

Territorians are Australia's biggest drug users.

According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey, one in five Territorians used at least one illicit drug in 2016 - the highest rate in Australia, well above the national average of 14.9%.

Territorians reported using more tobacco, cannabis, hallucinogens and new and emerging psychoactive substances than people in any other state or territory.

Banyan House chief executive Chris Franck said he had seen a significant increase in the demand for rehabilitation services in the NT over the past 2.5 years.

Mr Franck wasn't surprised the Territory led the nation in illicit drug use.

"Per capita, the NT has more drug and alcohol beds than any other state and that tells you something," he said.

"The fact that we have long waiting lists shows there isn't enough beds to fill the need."

But he said it was booze that took the greatest toll on our community.

"Alcohol is a drug, and it is freely available and is a social lubricant for society,"  he said.

"I think it's a cultural thing - people for various reasons fall victim to drug use because they self medicate to deal with certain issues in their lives."

He said there should be greater investment in educational programs, treatment services and housing options.

"The biggest antidote is education; people need to be educated so they make more of an informed decision," Mr Franck said.

"We cannot arrest ourselves out of this problem."

Heart Foundation NT health director Breanna Ellis was disappointed to see 20.9% of Territorians were smokers - well above the national average of 14.9%.

Ms Ellis said the NT's relaxed laws around public smoking was part of the reason so many people struggled to quit.

"We have the weakest legislation around making places and areas smoke free," she said.

Ms Ellis said smoke free spaces helped people quit.

"If you're trying to quit but if you're in a space where people are smoking around you - that makes it hard," she said.

"A lot of the laws that we have at the moment aren't doing enough to protect non smokers."

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said she was alarmed by the survey's findings.

Ms Fyles said it was a government priority to reduce drug use.

"Territorians need to take control of their health, need to take control of their lives," she said.

She said the Gunner Government would help curb the high use of drug use by investing in housing and educational services.

News Corp Australia

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