Alcohol first, then cannabis, top the list for drug treatment for older clients; pattern reversed fo

The latest report on alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia, released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, shows that alcohol, and then cannabis, are still the top drugs of concern for people seeking treatment for alcohol and drug use.

'For younger people (aged 10-19 years) the pattern was reversed, with cannabis nominated as the most common principal drug of concern (47% of treatment episodes) followed by alcohol (29%),' said Dr Paul Meyer of the Institute's Drug Surveys and Services Unit.

The report, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2006-07, profiles 147,325 treatment episodes from 633 government-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies across Australia.

Of these treatment episodes, 95% involved clients seeking treatment for their own alcohol or drug use, while the other 5% involved people seeking support or assistance in relation to someone else's alcohol or drug use.

The main drug of concern for those seeking treatment for themselves was alcohol (42% of treatment episodes). The number of treatment episodes where alcohol was nominated as the principal drug of concern increased from 56,076 in 2005-06 to 59,480 in 2006-07.

'While there was an increase in the total number of treatment episodes for alcohol, it is unclear what the relationship is between changes in alcohol consumption and use of treatment services,' Dr Meyer said.

Cannabis, at 23%, was the second most common principal drug of concern, followed by opioids at 14% (including heroin at 11%).

Alcohol was the focus of more treatment episodes for older age groups-42% for those in the 30-39 age group, and 84% for people 60 years and older.

As seen in previous years, most treatment episodes (66%) were provided to male clients.

'This continues the pattern seen since the start of the collection in 2001-02,' Dr Meyer said.

Across Australia, counselling was the most common form of treatment provided (38% of treatment episodes), followed by withdrawal management or detox (17%) and assessment only (15%).

Friday 17 October 2008

Further information: Dr Paul Meyer, AIHW, tel. 02 6244 1186, mob. 0400 344 572

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