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released: 11 Nov 2011 author: AIHW media release

Around 170,000 treatment episodes for alcohol and other drug use were provided in Australia in 2009-10. Almost half were for treatment related to alcohol use-the highest proportion observed since the collection began in 2001. As with previous years, counselling was the most common type of treatment offered. One in ten episodes involved more than one type of treatment.

ISSN 1447-6746; ISBN 978-1-74249-224-7; Cat. no. HSE 114; 150pp.; Internet only

A summary of alcohol and other drug treatment in 2009–10

Key findings 


  • Half of agencies (54%) were public/government.
  • Fewer than one in 10 agencies (8%) were in Remoteand Very remote Australia.


  • 19 out of 20 treatment episodes (96%) were for clients seeking treatment for their own drug use.
  • The medianage of those in treatment was 32.
  • Three in 10 episodes (29%) were for clients aged 20–29, the largest age cohort.
  • Two in three episodes (66%) were for males. 
  • When compared with their proportions in the general population, Indigenous Australians were over-represented in treatment episodes.


  • Half of all episodes (53%) had multiple drugs of concern.
  • Almost half of episodes (48%) had alcohol as the principal drug of concern, the highest proportion since the collection began.
  • One in 10 episodes (10%) had heroin as the principal drug of concern.
  • Despite being a principal drug of concern in only 2% of treatment episodes, nicotine was the third most common drug of concern reported overall (20%).


  • Counselling was the most common treatment type (42% of episodes).
  • One in 10 (9%) episodes nominated more than one treatment type.
  • Two in 10 (19%) episodes were court or police referrals.
  • Three in 20 (15%) episodes had withdrawal management (detoxification) as a main treatment.
  • The median duration for a treatment episode was 22 days.
  • The most common referral method was self-referral(35%).

Recommended citation

AIHW 2011. Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2009-10: report on the National Minimum Data Set. Drug treatment series no. 14. Cat. no. HSE 114. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 20 August 2017 <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737420496>.

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