Alcohol and other drug (AOD) use is linked to increased risk of injury, mental illness, preventable disease, road trauma and death (AIHW 2021). AOD treatment agencies across Australia provide a range of services and support to people receiving treatment for their own drug use, as well as their families and friends.
Many types of treatment are available in Australia to assist people with their drug use. Most treatments aim to reduce the harm of drug use (for example, counselling). Some treatments help clients to develop skills that facilitate drug-free lifestyles and prevent relapse (for example, abstinence-oriented interventions in a structured, substance-free setting).
Opioid pharmacotherapy is a type of treatment that can reduce drug cravings and other withdrawal symptoms in people experiencing opioid drug dependence (such as codeine or heroin dependence).
See Alcohol and Illicit use of drugs for information on use of alcohol and other drugs.
- Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS): provides information about publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia, the people they treat and the treatment provided.
- National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data (NOPSAD) collection: provides information about people receiving opioid pharmacotherapy for their opioid dependence in Australia, as well as health professionals who prescribe opioid pharmacotherapy and dosing points (such as pharmacies) where clients receive treatment.
Agencies whose sole function is to prescribe or provide dosing services for opioid pharmacotherapy are excluded from the AODTS NMDS, as data from these agencies are captured in the NOPSAD collection (AIHW 2022a, 2022b).
Data from the AODTS NMDS indicate that around 138,000 clients aged 10 and over received AOD treatment in 2020–21. These clients received just over 242,000 closed treatment episodes from 1,278 publicly funded AOD treatment agencies.
- Just over 6 in 10 clients of AOD treatment services were male (62% of clients), and around 5 in 10 were aged 20–39 years (52% of clients).
- Just under 2 in 10 clients (17%) identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
- Over 9 in 10 clients sought treatment for their own drug use (93% of clients).
Between 2013–14 and 2020–21, the estimated number of clients receiving AOD treatment rose by 21%. Across the same period, after adjusting for population growth, the rate of clients accessing AOD services increased from 564 to 616 per 100,000 population.
Data from the NOPSAD collection showed that around 47,600 clients received opioid pharmacotherapy treatment across Australia on a snapshot day in mid-2021 (excluding data for Queensland, which were not available in 2021). There were just under 2,500 dosing points nationally.
Opioid pharmacotherapy clients had broadly similar characteristics to clients of publicly funded AOD treatment agencies, but there was a higher proportion of people in older age groups. On a snapshot day in 2021:
- Almost 7 in 10 opioid pharmacotherapy clients were male (68% of clients), and 6 in 10 were aged 30–49 (60% of clients).
- Just over 1 in 10 clients (12%) identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.
What drugs do people seek treatment for?
Data from the AODTS NMDS indicate that alcohol continued to be the most common principal drug of concern (PDOC) that led clients to seek treatment for their own drug use in 2020–21.
However, between 2011–12 and 2020–21:
- The proportion of closed treatment episodes provided for alcohol as a PDOC decreased from 46% to 37% (in relation to all principal drugs of concern).
- The proportion of episodes for amphetamines as a PDOC rose from 11% to 24% (Figure 1).