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You are here:
Over 41,000 clients were being treated for dependence on opioid
drugs such as heroin as at 30 June 2008, according to the
National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data
collection: 2008 Report, released today by the Australian
Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).
The report provides information and statistics about the
characteristics of those being treated for opioid drug dependence,
the different types of treatments and medication dispensing
Report author Amber Jefferson said there was an increase in the
number clients in 2008 compared with each of the previous three
'From 2005 to 2007 numbers remained relatively stable at around
39,000 people being treated for opioid drug dependence, but this
rose to 41,347 in 2008,' she said.
'The proportion of male clients has remained the same at about
two thirds,' she said.
Of the 41,347 clients being treated nationally, approximately
27,500 were male.
As in previous years, the about 65% of clients received
treatment from a private prescriber. Prescribers in the public and
corrections sectors also remained at similar levels, 27% and 7%
Over 85% of dosing sites were located in pharmacies.
Both the number of registered prescribers and the number of
dosing point sites increased between 2006 and 2008.
According to the report, about 70% of all clients were receiving
methadone and the remainder received buprenorphine or
The proportion of clients receiving the combination drug
increased between 2006 and 2008.
'This combination product is now more commonly used as a
treatment for opioid dependence than buprenorphine alone because it
is believed the combination product reduces the risk of
inappropriate use,' Ms Jefferson said.
The proportion of clients receiving the single buprenorphine
product continues to decrease while the proportion of clients
receiving methadone has remained relatively stable over the same
three year period.
Methadone and buprenorphine are prescribed heroin substitutes.
Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids and buprenorphine/naloxone
prevents withdrawal symptoms.
Thursday 21 May 2009
Further information: Ms Amber Jefferson, AIHW,
tel. 02 6244 1137, mob. 0407 915 851
For media copies of the report: Publications
Officer, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1032.
Availability: Check the AIHW Publications area
for the availability of National Opioid
Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data collection: 2008