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released: 12 Aug 2014 author: AIHW media release

Over 700 agencies provided over 160,000 treatment episodes for alcohol and other drug issues to an estimated 108,000 clients in Australia in 2012–13. Most episodes were for clients receiving treatment for their own drug use, and these clients tended to be male and in their 20s and 30s. Alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern, accounting for almost half of these closed episodes, and counselling was the most common type of treatment.

ISSN 14476746; ISBN 978-1-74249-609-2; Cat. no. HSE 150; 133pp.; $16

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Summary

Alcohol and other drug treatment services across Australia provide a broad range of treatment services and support to people using drugs and to their families and friends. This report presents the latest annual snapshot of information about publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment service agencies, the people they treat and the treatment received. For the first time in 2012-13, the AIHW has been able to estimate the number of clients receiving treatment.

Around 110,000 clients received almost 162,400 treatment episodes from 714 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies across Australia4

There has been a steady increase in both the number of agencies and treatment episodes provided over the last decade. More specifically, in 2012-13, alcohol and other drug treatment agencies provided a total of 162,362 closed treatment episodes, an increase of 6% from 2011-12. These services were provided by 714 agencies, an increase of 8% from 2011-12.

The age profile of people using services suggests that there is an ageing cohort of people in alcohol and other drug treatment

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 for those aged 40 and over rose from 29% to 32%. The proportions for those aged 10-19 and 30-39 remained steady.

Alcohol continues to be the most common principal drug of concern and treatment for amphetamines is increasing

Alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and heroin have remained the most common principal drugs of concern since 2003-04. Since 2009-10, the proportion of episodes where alcohol was the most common principal drug has decreased (from 48% to 41%), while the proportion for amphetamines has increased (from 7% to 14%).

The majority of clients have more than 1 drug of concern

In 3 out of 5 (63%) closed episodes, the client reported additional drugs of concern. Of these, 31% reported 1 additional drug and 17% reported 2. Nicotine was the most common additional drug along with cannabis (both 23%), although nicotine was the principal drug for only 2% of episodes.

Counselling continues to be the most common type of treatment with diversion influencing increases in assessment

Over the 10 years from 2003-04 to 2012-13, the proportion of episodes for each main treatment type has remained quite stable, with counselling (46%), assessment only (17%) and withdrawal management (16%) being the most common types of treatment over that period. In 2012-13, assessment only overtook withdrawal management as the second most common main treatment type for the first time since these data have been collected.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be over represented in alcohol and other drug treatment services

Despite comprising just 3% of the Australian population, 14% of episodes were provided to Indigenous Australians by publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services. In addition, 73,991 alcohol and other drug treatment episodes were delivered by specialist Indigenous services.

Recommended citation

AIHW 2014. Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2012-13. Drug treatment series no. 24. Cat. no. HSE 150. Canberra: AIHW.

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