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More than half of people seeking help for drug use are aged between 20 and 39, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2011-12, presents data on government-funded agencies and the episodes of treatment they provide.

AIHW spokesperson Amber Jefferson said that treatment was provided by about 660 agencies, and while this number was down slightly on 2010-11, the number of episodes closed by the agencies had increased by 2% to more than 153,600 in 2011-12.

Most treatment episodes for people receiving help for their own drug use were for clients aged 20-29 (28%) and 30-39 (29%), while 12% were for clients aged 10-19 and 20% were for clients aged 40-49.

'Over two-thirds of these clients were male,' Ms Jefferson said.

As in previous years, alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern.

'Over the 9 years from 2003­-04, alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and heroin have remained the 4 most common principal drugs of concern,' Ms Jefferson said.

In 2011-12, alcohol was listed as the principal drug of concern in 46% of all treatment episodes, followed by cannabis (22%), amphetamines (11%) and heroin (9%).

'In 4 out of 5 episodes, the client reported more than one drug of concern, and alcohol remained the most common drug overall even when additional drugs were considered,' Ms Jefferson said.

Counselling was the most common type of treatment, followed by withdrawal management.

The median length of treatment episodes has gradually increased-from 17 days to 26 days between 2003-04 and 2011-12.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 28 August 2013

Further information: Amber Jefferson, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1137, mob. 0418 271 395

Full publication: Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2011-12