Alcohol dominant problem for publicly funded drug and alcohol treatment services

Problems with alcohol dominate the activities of publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services, according to a report published today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2001-02 report shows that alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 37% of treatment episodes, followed by cannabis (21%), heroin (18%) and amphetamines (11%).

Statistics in the report cover 121,000 treatment episodes across 505 agencies, focusing on clients using publicly funded treatment services, the types of drug problems for which treatment is sought, and the types of treatment they received. The report is part of the monitoring and evaluation components of the Australian Government's National Drug Strategy.

Two-thirds of alcohol and other drug treatment episodes involved male clients and most treatment episodes (61%) were for clients aged between 20 and 39 years of age.

Counselling was the most common form of main treatment received by clients (39% of treatment episodes), followed by withdrawal management (detoxification) (19%), assessment only (15%) and information and education only (10%).

Withdrawal management was more common among clients aged 40 years or more (24% of these treatment episodes) than in clients aged under 40 years (18%).

Report co-author Gail Weaving said that alcohol as the principal drug of concern was particularly prevalent among older age groups.

'Alcohol was the most common drug of concern for 42% of treatment episodes among clients aged 30-39, 62% in clients aged 40-49, 79% in clients aged 50-59, and 80% for clients aged 60 and over', Ms Weaving said.

'In contrast, in the 10-19 age group, almost half (46%) of the treatment episodes were principally for problems with cannabis, followed by alcohol on 15%.'

'In the 20-29 year age group heroin was the principal drug of concern at 26%, closely followed by cannabis on 25% and alcohol on 22%.'

7 November 2003

Further information: Gail Weaving, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1050 or mobile 0407 915 851
Background briefings: Chrysanthe Psychogios, tel. 02 6244 1068
Media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1032