Alcohol and cannabis top drug treatment lists

When Australians get treatment for substance use, alcohol and cannabis top the list, says a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2004-05, profiles 142,144 treatment episodes from 635 government-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies across Australia.

Of the treatment episodes examined in the report, one-in-three were for clients aged 20-29 years and the majority (two-in-three) were males.

The AIHW's Chrysanthe Psychogios said 'Alcohol was the main drug of concern in 37% of treatment episodes, a figure which has changed little over the last four years.'

Cannabis was the next most common main drug of concern (23%), followed by heroin (17%) and amphetamines (11%).

Ms Psychogios noted that many clients sought treatment for multiple drugs, with over half of all treatment episodes involving at least two drugs of concern.

'When all drugs are considered, just over half (51%) of all treatment episodes included alcohol and 45% included cannabis,' she said.

A special chapter on cannabis has been included in the report. It shows that, of cannabis users who sought treatment, around two-in-five (41%) were aged 20-29 years -this is the age group most likely to have recently used cannabis.

Among clients who said cannabis use was their main concern, just over half (52%) of their treatment episodes involved at least one other drug that concerned them. Alcohol was the most common 'other drug' reported (36%), followed by nicotine (21%), amphetamines (20%) and ecstasy (6%).

As previously, counselling was the most commonly provided treatment overall, followed by withdrawal management (detoxification).

*Agencies whose sole activity is to prescribe and/or dose methadone or other opioid therapies are not included in the national data set

27 July 2006

Further information: Ms Chrysanthe Psychogios, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1068

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. 61 2 6244 1032.