Self-referral most common way to drug and alcohol treatment services

One-third of clients receiving publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services check themselves in for treatment, according to a report published today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Data in Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2000-01 show that self-referral was the single most common method of entry to these services. Referrals from other service providers and community-based corrections were also common.

The report, which covers over 83,000 client registrations in all States and Territories except Queensland, focuses on clients using publicly funded treatment services and the types of drug problem for which treatment was sought.

Nearly two-thirds of clients were men, and most clients (62%) were aged between 20 and 39 years of age.

In cases where a person such as a spouse, partner or parent sought assistance on behalf of someone else, the person seeking the assistance was most likely to be a woman (two-thirds of cases).

Among the 77,000 clients receiving treatment for their own drug use, alcohol was the principal drug of concern (34% of clients). Heroin was the next most common drug of concern (28%) followed by cannabis (14%) and amphetamines (9%).

Among the Indigenous clients of these services, nearly half nominated alcohol as their principal drug of concern compared to one-third of the non-Indigenous clients. For heroin, the situation was reversed, at 19% of Indigenous clients compared with 30% of non-Indigenous clients.

Report co-author Gail Weaving also noted that the drug of concern varied considerably with age:

'We found that clients seeking treatment for their own heroin and cannabis use tended to be mostly in the younger age groups, while the proportion of those seeking treatment for problems with alcohol tended to increase with age.

'For example in the 10-19 age group (98% of whom were in fact aged 15-19), 31% of clients were seeking treatment for problems with heroin, 30% for problems with cannabis and 15% for problems with alcohol.

'In the 50-59 age group the respective proportions were 5% for heroin, 3% for cannabis and 78% for alcohol.'

20 November 2002


For interviews: Ros Madden, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1189, or tel. 0409 307 671
For background briefings: Gail Weaving, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1050, or tel. 0419 251 763.
For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, tel. 02 6244 1032