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Around 108,000 clients had almost 162,400 treatment episodes from 714 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies across Australia in 2012-13, 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: 2012-13, shows that alcohol continues to be the most common principal drug of concern and treatment for amphetamines is rising.

'Alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and heroin have remained the most common principal drugs of concern since 2003-04,' said AIHW spokesperson Geoff Neideck.

'Since 2009-10, the proportion of episodes where alcohol was the principal drug has dropped (from 48% to 41%), while the proportion for amphetamines doubled from 7% to 14%.

'However, the majority of clients have more than one drug of concern, with nicotine the most common additional drug along with cannabis.'

Counselling continues to be the most common type of treatment received by clients, reported for nearly half (46%) of all episodes. About 1 in 6 episodes (17%) were for assessment and about the same were for withdrawal management (16%).

'The age profile of people using the services suggests that there is an ageing cohort of people in alcohol and other drug treatment. This is particularly evident for those in treatment for illicit drug use, especially heroin use,' Mr Neideck said.

Over the 5 years to 2012-13, the proportion of people treated who were aged 20-29 fell from 31% to 27% while the proportion who were aged 40 and over rose from 29% to 32%.

The proportions who were aged 10-19 and 30-39 remained steady.

Drugs of concern varied considerably with age. People in older age groups were more likely to have sought treatment for alcohol and far less likely to have sought treatment for cannabis than those in younger age groups.

Despite making up 3% of the Australian population, 14% of treatment episodes were provided to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

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, 12 August 2014

Further information: Geoff Neideck, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1163, mob. 0439 878 933

Full publication: Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: 2012-13