In Australia, publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services are available in all states and territories—most are funded by state and territory governments, and some are funded by the Australian Government.

Clients seeking treatment for their own drug use nominate a principal drug of concern, and additional drugs where applicable, which may be related to licit drug use (the use of legal drugs in a legal manner, including tobacco smoking and alcohol consumption) or illicit drug use. Illicit drug use refers to the:

  • use of illegal drugs—those prohibited from manufacture, sale or possession in Australia, such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin and ecstasy misuse, non-medical or extra-medical use of pharmaceuticals—drugs that are available from a pharmacy, over-the-counter or by prescription, which may be subject to misuse, such as opioid-based pain relief medications, opioid substitution therapies, benzodiazepines, over-the-counter codeine and steroids
  • use of other psychoactive substances—legal or illegal, which can potentially be used in a harmful way, for example, kava, or inhalants such as petrol, paint or glue (but not including tobacco or alcohol) (DoH 2017).

Depending on a client's circumstances, services can be delivered in residential or non-residential settings and include treatment such as detoxification and rehabilitation, counselling, and pharmacotherapy.

Opioid pharmacotherapy is one of the main treatment options for dependence on opioid drugs, such as heroin and morphine. Treatment involves replacing the opioid drug of dependence with a legally obtained, longer-lasting opioid that is taken orally. In Australia, clients attend dosing point sites (for example, pharmacies) regularly to take the dose of their prescribed medication under the supervision of a pharmacist or other health professional.


DoH (Department of Health) 2017. The National Drug Strategy 2017–2026. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.