Continued growth in number of Australians seeking treatment for amphetamine use

UNDER EMBARGO—until 1:00am, Friday, 20 April, 2018

The number of Australians seeking treatment for amphetamine use continues to rise, with the number of treatment episodes for amphetamines more than doubling in the last decade, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2016–17: key findings, shows that over 127,000 Australians received drug or alcohol treatment in 2016–17, equating to around 1 in every 170 people. 

‘Overall, alcohol remains the most common drug for which Australians sought treatment—about 1 in 3 (32%) drug treatment episodes are for alcohol,’ said AIHW spokesperson Moira Hewitt.

‘However, the fastest growing treatment area is for amphetamine use, which has more than doubled over the last 10 years—in 2007–08, 11% of all drug treatment episodes were for amphetamines, but this rose to 26% in 2016–17,’ Ms Hewitt said.

‘Even in the past few years, this growth has been substantial—since 2012–13, treatment episodes for amphetamines rose by 123%.’

After alcohol and amphetamines, cannabis and heroin were the most common drugs for which people received treatment, making up 22% and 5% of treatment episodes respectively.

The proportion of treatment episodes for heroin has continued to decline in recent years, falling by 22% between 2012–13 and 2016–17, from about 12,800 to around 10,000 treatment episodes,’ Ms Hewitt said.

The report also shows that overall, just over half of clients were aged between 20 and 39 (55%), while a third (33%) were aged over 40.

‘This age profile has remained stable since data on the characteristics of drug treatment clients was first reported four years ago,’ Ms Hewitt said.

‘And also consistent with previous years, just under two-thirds (66%) of all clients receiving treatment in 2016–17 were male.’

Today’s report also shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians were overrepresented among clients. Despite only comprising 2.7% of the Australian population (10 years and over), 1 in 7 clients (15%) receiving drug or alcohol treatment services were Indigenous.

A recent AIHW report quantified the serious impact of alcohol and illicit drugs on the health of Australians, revealing 1 in every 20 deaths was caused by the use of these substances.

Canberra, 18 April 2018

Further information:            

  • Elizabeth Ingram, Tel. 02 6249 5048, mob. 0431 871 337 
  • Elise Guy, Tel. 02 6244 1156, mob. 0468 525 418