Key findings from the Drug use careers of female offenders (DUCO) study

The Drug use careers of female offenders study, recently released by the Australian Institute of Criminology, is the latest addition to the DUCO project which has previously examined over 2,000 male offenders. In the female study, 470 women incarcerated in prisons in six jurisdictions were interviewed. The project was funded by the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department under the National Illicit Drug Strategy. The study found that a majority (80%) of the female offenders reported having ever used any illegal drugs. In particular, cannabis was the most common drug ever used (78%), followed by amphetamines (61%) and heroin (46%). A large percentage of offenders indicated having used more than one drug (65%). Following a similar pattern, the percentage of female offenders indicating current regular use of any drug was also high (62%). The most common drugs associated with current regular use were cannabis (40%), amphetamines (37%) and multiple drug use (39%). Current regular use of cocaine was reported by only six per cent of female offenders.

Lifetime prevalence and current regular use of illegal drugs (per cent) [see attached PDF for graph]


  • Johnson H 2004. Key findings from the drug use careers of female offenders study. Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no 289. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology