• Print

Key findings

Alcohol and other drug treatment services assist people to address their problematic drug use through a range of treatments. Treatment objectives can include reduction or cessation of drug use as well as improvements to social and personal functioning. Assistance may also be provided to support the family and friends of people using drugs.

Following are highlights from the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS).

AODTS NMDS data cubes

Data cubes for 2015–16 are now available.

The data cubes are a set of interactive tables. They provide a comprehensive set of data from which the majority of the variables in the AODTS NMDS can be interrogated, allowing users to create their own custom data tables, or to re-create data presented in this report.

In the following web pages, where data—either in text or in a Figure—relate to a data cube, a link has been provided to the relevant data cube for your reference.

Note, there is a small set of supplementary tables containing information on treatment setting and length by principal drug of concern. This information is not provided in the data cubes to ensure client confidentiality.

Key findings in 2015–16

Column chart shows 17% increase from 2011-12 to 2015-16


  • A total of 796 publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies provided services to clients seeking treatment and support for alcohol and other drug problems, an increase of 17% over the 5-year period to 2015–16.

crowd icon


  • An estimated 133,895 clients received just over 206,000 treatment episodes from alcohol and other drug treatment agencies.
  • 2 in 3 clients were male (67%), just over half were aged 20–39 (55%), and around 1 in 7 clients were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (14%).
  • The AOD client group is an ageing cohort, with a median age of 33 years in 2015–16, up from 31 in 2006–07. Since 2006–07 there has been a decline in the proportion of 20–29 year olds being treated (from 33% to 28% of treatment episodes), while the proportion of those aged 40 and over rose from 26% to 32%.
  • The proportion of episodes where clients were receiving treatment for amphetamines (23%) has continued to increase over the last 10 years, from 12% of treatment episodes in 2006–07, and from 20% in 2014–15.

Trendline shows 40% growth in closed treatment episodes from 147,325 in 2006-07 to 206,635 in 2015-16.


  • There was an increase in the number of closed treatment episodes between 2006–07 and 2015–16, from 147,325 to 206,635—a 40% increase over the 10-year period. While for Indigenous clients the number of episodes has almost doubled, with a 90% increase over the same period (from 14,823 to 28,410).
  • In 2015–16, the top principal drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (32% of treatment episodes), amphetamines (23%), cannabis (23%) and heroin (6%).
  • Across most states and territories, alcohol was also the top principal drug of concern that led clients to seek treatment, except for SA and WA where amphetamines were the highest reported (36% and 35% of episodes) and Qld where it was cannabis (39%).
  • Treatment for the use of amphetamines increased over the 5 years to 2015–16 (from 11% of closed treatment episodes to 23%).
  • Over the 10 years since 2006–07, treatment types received by clients have not changed substantially, with counselling, assessment only, support and case management only, and withdrawal management being the most common types of treatment—this was the same for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients.

Table of contents

Data sources


The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS) is the primary source used in this analysis. It provides information on the treatment provided by publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in Australia. These services are available to people seeking treatment for their own drug use and people seeking treatment for someone else's drug use. Data are available from 2003–04 onwards.

In the AODTS NMDS, the main counting unit is a closed treatment episode, which is defined as a period of contact between a client and a treatment provider (or team of providers) that is closed when treatment is completed or has ceased, or there has been no further contact between the client and the treatment provider for 3 months. Since 2012–13, a statistical linkage key (SLK) has been collected which means the number of clients receiving treatment can now be estimated .

Other data sources

A number of other data sources include information not available in the AODTS NMDS. Using these additional data sets supports more comprehensive reporting of alcohol and other drug treatment in Australia. These include the National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data Collection (NOPSAD), the National Hospital Morbidity Database, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report Database, the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) Collection and the National Prisoner Health Data Collection (NPHDC).

In 2014–15:

In 2015, of the 1,011 prison entrants in the National Prisoner Health Collection (NPHDC), two-thirds (67%) reported using illicit drugs in the previous 12 months—1 in 2 (50%) reported using methamphetamines, and 2 in 5 (41%) cannabis.