THE midlife crisis is escalating into a fully fledged health epidemic, with older Australians abusing drugs and booze in greater numbers than ever before.
Startling new figures from the nation's most comprehensive drug survey show while teenagers are turning their backs on alcohol and illicit substances older generations are abusing drugs such as cannabis and writing themselves off binge drinking.
The National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016 reveals drug abuse has jumped since 2001 by more than a third among people in their 40s.
And in the past three years it has rocketed to 16.2 per cent - the biggest increase of all age groups. This is being driven by cannabis and pharmaceutical abuse, which is also behind the jump in users in their 50s.
Meanwhile the classic vices of smoking and drinking remain hard to break across regional Australia, while those in the cities start to cut back.
Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast are the heaviest smokers in Australia with 21.2% with North Queensland rounding out the top five at 17.7%.when the national average is 12.2%.
The north coast of NSW are in the top five for 'lifetime risky drinkers' with 24.4%. The average is 17.1%.
The region is also recorded as having among the highest recent illegal drug use with 22.8%.
Western Queenslanders are among the worst binge drinkers on a monthly basis at 34.8%, with the Gold Coast also in the top five at 31.9%.