Alcohol still tops the list for drug treatment

The latest report on alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), shows that alcohol still tops the list when it comes to the drugs for which people seek treatment.

The report, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2005-06, profiles over 150,000 treatment episodes from 664 government-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies across Australia.

The AIHW's Dr Chris Stevenson said 'Alcohol is the most widely used drug in Australia and is also the most common drug for which people seek treatment.

In 2005-06, alcohol was the main drug of concern nominated by clients in 39% of treatment episodes.

However, when all drugs of concern are considered (that is, the main drug and any other drug use that concerns the client) the figure rises to around half (54%) of all treatment episodes.'

Alcohol has consistently been the most common drug nominated by clients over the last five reporting periods, with the proportion of treatment episodes for this drug changing very little over that time.

Similar to previous years, cannabis was the most common illicit drug people sought treatment for (25% of episodes), followed by heroin (14%) and amphetamines (11%). The 2004 National Drug Strategy Household Survey also shows that cannabis is the most widely used illicit drug in Australia.

Dr Stevenson noted that many clients sought treatment for multiple drug use, with over half (53%) of treatment episodes involving at least two drugs. He also noted that the drugs nominated by clients were strongly related to their age.

'Alcohol was the most common drug of concern for clients aged 30 years and over. However, for younger clients, cannabis was the most common drug nominated, particularly for clients aged under 20 years where cannabis accounted for one out of two episodes,' he said.

As in previous reports, counselling was the most commonly provided treatment overall and for most drug types.

26 July 2007

Further information: Dr Chris Stevenson, AIHW tel. 6244 1216 or Ms Louise York, AIHW tel. 6244 1271

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