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Dependence on opioid drugs (which include codeine, heroin and oxycodone) is associated with a range of health and social problems that affect individual drug users, their family and friends, and the wider public. Treatment with an opioid pharmacotherapy drug, such as methadone or buprenorphine, can reduce drug cravings (NDARC 2004) and improve physical and mental health and social and economic participation, including a reduction in drug-related crime (Ritter & Chalmers 2009).

The National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data (NOPSAD) collection provides information on a snapshot day in June 2016 on clients receiving opioid pharmacotherapy treatment, the doctors prescribing opioid pharmacotherapy drugs, and the dosing points (such as pharmacies) that clients attend to receive their medication.

Data coverage

The 2016 NOPSAD report contains data from New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Data from Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory were not available in time for publication of the NOPSAD 2016 report due to changes in system issues and reporting processes, respectively. The report will be updated at a later stage to include data from Victoria when it becomes available and the Australian Capital Territory’s data received. As data for Victoria and the ACT are not included in the report, caution should be used when interpreting this data as the national totals will contain an undercount of clients, prescribers and dosing points. Comparison at the national level between data for 2016 and data from previous years should not be made until the report is updated to include full national data.

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Highlights from the 2016 collection


Clients

  • 33,988 clients received treatment nationally (excluding Victoria and the ACT).
  • 2 in 3 were male—the same as in 2015.
  • Median age was 42.
  • 1 in 10 identified as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander—the same as in 2015.
  • Heroin was the most common opioid drug of dependence for which treatment was sought—the same as in 2015.
  • 2 in 3 were treated with methadone—the same as in 2015.

Prescribers

  • There were 1,472 prescribers (excluding Victoria and the ACT).
  • 69% worked in the private sector.
  • 61% were authorised to prescribe more than 1 type of pharmacotherapy drug.
  • 23 opioid pharmacotherapy clients on average were treated by each prescriber.

Dosing points

  • There were 2,011 dosing points (excluding Victoria and the ACT).
  • 87% were pharmacies.
  • 17 clients on average were dosed at each dosing point.

The collection

The NOPSAD collection commenced in 2005 and comprises data about the clients receiving opioid pharmacotherapy treatment and the dosing point site where treatment is provided, for all registered or authorised prescribers of pharmacotherapy drugs. Data are collected by state and territory health departments and reported to the AIHW. Prior to 2005, information was provided each year to the Australian Government Department of Health.


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Additional material

Further information

See Alcohol and other drugs for more information on alcohol and other drug use and treatment services in Australia.

Publications

Previous NOPSAD publications.

Related data collections

The following data collections also contain information on drug use and treatment:

References

See Data and references.