Clients

Who uses alcohol and other drug treatment services?

Publicly funded AOD treatment services provided treatment to around 137,000 clients across Australia.

In 2018–19, publicly funded AOD treatment services provided treatment to 136,999 clients across Australia. This equates to 623 clients per 100,000 people, or about 1 in 161 people in the general population. Around 94% of clients received treatment for their own drug use, with the remainder seeking support for someone else's drug use.

Age and sex

The median age of clients has remained stable at 34 years and nearly two-thirds (64%) of all clients were male.

The age profile of clients has remained stable over the 5 years in which client data has been recorded in the AODTS NMDS. The median age of clients also remained stable at 34 years. Over half (53%) of all clients were aged 20–39, 35% were aged 40 and over, and 12% were aged 10–19.

Consistent with previous years, nearly two-thirds (64%) of all clients were male. Of the 94% of clients who received treatment for their own drug use, 66% were male. Of the remaining 6% of clients who sought support for someone else’s drug use, around half (51%) were female. This is a decrease from 2017–18, when 64% of clients seeking support for someone else’s drug use were female. Less than half a percent (0.1%) of all clients reported a sex of ‘Other’, which includes clients who reported a sex of indeterminate, intersex, non-binary or unspecified. The 2018–19 collection was the first  to have ‘Other’ available as a value for the client’s sex.

Cultural and linguistic diversity

In 2018–19, 17% of AOD treatment service clients aged 10 and over identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. This equates to a rate of 3,580 clients per 100,000 Indigenous Australians, compared with 515 clients per 100,000 non-Indigenous Australians. Indigenous clients were 7 times more likely than non-Indigenous clients to receive treatment services.

Most treatment episodes involved clients who were born in Australia (87%), with New Zealand (3%) and the United Kingdom (2%) being the most common countries of birth for people born outside Australia. These proportions are generally consistent with place of birth for the Australian population (ABS 2018). In 96% of treatment episodes, clients listed English as their preferred language.

Over the period from 2014–15 to 2018–19

  • The estimated number of clients aged 10 and over rose by 19%, from 114,912 to 136,999.
  • The proportion of clients who received treatment for their own drug use who are male slightly fell from 69% to 66%, while the proportion of clients who received treatment for someone else’s drug use who are male increased from 37% to 45%.
  • The proportion of Indigenous clients receiving treatment for their own drug use increased slightly, from 15% to 17%.
  • The proportion of clients who received support for someone else’s drug use, who were aged 10–19, fell from 18% to 11%.

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2019. Migration, Australia, 2017–18. ABS cat. No. 3412.0. Canberra: ABS.