South Australia

In 2018–19, 84 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in South Australia provided 11,934 closed treatment episodes to 8,681 clients (Tables SA.1 and SCR.21).

The visualisation shows that 11,934 closed treatment episodes were provided to an estimated 8,681 clients in South Australia in 2018–19. This equates to a rate of 776 episodes and 565 clients per 100,000 population, a lower rate than the 1,000 episodes and 623 clients per 100,000 population reported nationally.

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In 2018–19, most (88%) clients in South Australia attended 1 agency, and received an average of 1.4 closed treatment episodes, which is slightly lower than the national average of 1.6 episodes (Tables SCR.21 and SCR.23).

Client demographics

In 2018–19:

  • nearly all (98%) clients in South Australia received treatment for their
    own alcohol or drug use, of which, most (64%) were male (Figure 17; Table SC SA.1)
  • clients receiving treatment for someone else’s alcohol or drug use were more likely to be female (71%), this was greater than the national proportion (51%)
  • over half (54%) of clients were aged 20–39 years (Table SC SA.2)
  • one in 7 (13%) clients identified as Indigenous Australians, which is slightly lower than the national proportion (17%) (Tables SC SA.3 and SC.4)
  • the majority (89%) of clients were born in Australia and nearly all (98%) reported English as their preferred language (Tables SC SA.21 and SC SA.22).

The visualisation includes a series of horizontal bar graphs showing that, in 2018–19, nearly all (98%) clients in South Australia received treatment for their own drug use. Of these clients, almost two-thirds (65%) were male, 55% were aged 20–39, and 14% were Indigenous Australians. Nearly all clients (98%) listed English as their preferred language and most (90%) were born in Australia.

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Patterns of service use:

In South Australia, of the 8,681 clients who received treatment in 2018–19:

  • 61% (5,331) received treatment in 2018–19 only
  • 10% (865) received treatment in both 2017–18 and 2018–19
  • 2.9% (250) received treatment in each year from 2016–17 to 2018–19
  • 1.6% (136) received treatment in each year from 2015–16 to 2018–19
  • 1.6% (140) received treatment in all years, from 2014–15 to 2018–19.

Over the period 2014–15 to 2018–19, 31,303 clients received treatment in South Australia. Of those:

  • 76% (23,901) received treatment in only a single year  
  • 17% (5,171) received treatment in any 2 of the 5 years
  • 5.1% (1,591) received treatment in any 3 of the 5 years
  • 1.6% (500) received treatment in any 4 of the 5 years
  • 0.5% (140) received treatment in all 5 collection years.

Drugs of concern

In 2018–19, for clients in South Australia receiving treatment episodes for their own alcohol or drug use:

  • amphetamines were the most common principal drug of concern for clients (37% of episodes) (Figure 18; Tables SE SA.10); where amphetamines were the principal drug of concern, the most common method of use was injecting (47%), followed by smoking (40%) (Figure 18b)
  • within the amphetamines group, methamphetamine was reported as a principal drug of concern in approximately 70% of treatment episodes; in 62% of treatment episodes where methamphetamine was the principal drug of concern smoking was the most common method of use. This was followed by injecting (32%)
  • alcohol accounted for nearly one-third of treatment episodes (30%), followed by cannabis (15%), and nicotine (6%).

    Clients can nominate up to 5 additional drugs of concern, these drugs are not necessarily the subject of any treatment within the episode (see Technical notes).

In 2018–19, when the client reported additional drugs of concern:

  • nicotine was the most common (28% of episodes), followed by cannabis (21%), alcohol (13%), and amphetamines (11%) (Table SE SA.11).

    Over the period 2014–15 to 2018–19:

  • alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern for clients up to 2015–16, then replaced by amphetamines.  Alcohol decreased from 32% of episodes in 2014–15 to 30% in 2018–19 (Table SE SA.10)
  • amphetamines rose from 30% to 35% in 2017–18, rising to 37% in 2018–19
  • within the amphetamines code group, methamphetamine was reported as the principal drug of concern in nearly one-fifth of episodes (18%) in 2014–15, rising to 63% in 2017–18 and 70% in 2018–19 (Figure 18a); the rise in episodes could be related to increases in funded treatment services and/or improvement in agency coding practices for methamphetamines.

The proportion of treatment episodes for amphetamines as a principal drug of concern has been consistently higher in South Australia than the national proportion. This is related to a state Government legislated program regarding assessments provided under a Police Drug Diversion initiative. The program results in comparatively high proportions of engagement with methamphetamine users. In addition, due to the Cannabis Expiation Notice legislation in South Australia, adult simple cannabis offences are not diverted to treatment and so are not included in the data (see the Data Quality Statement).

The grouped horizontal bar chart shows that, in 2018–19, amphetamines was the most common principal drug of concern in treatment episodes provided to clients in South Australia for their own drug use (37%). This was followed by alcohol (30%), cannabis (16%), and heroin (4.3%). Nicotine was the most common additional drug of concern (28%), followed by cannabis (21%), alcohol (13%), and amphetamines (11%).

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The line graph shows that methamphetamine is the most common drug of concern among meth/amphetamine-related treatment episodes for clients’ own drug use, overtaking amphetamines not further defined in 2015–16. The proportion of methamphetamine-related episodes increased from 18% in 2014–15 to 70% in 2018–19. Conversely, there was a decrease in the proportion of episodes relating to amphetamines not further defined (from 72% to 14%).

The stacked horizontal bar chart shows the method of use for treatment episodes related to clients’ own use of meth/amphetamines in South Australia in 2018–19. Smoking and injecting were the first and second most common methods of use, respectively, for treatment episodes relating to amphetamines not further defined (44% for smoking and 42% for injecting), methamphetamine (62% and 32%), and other amphetamines (48% and 42%). For amphetamine, the reverse was true: injecting was the most common method of use (47%), followed by smoking (40%).

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Treatment

In 2018–19, the majority of closed episodes for all clients in South Australia, included:

  • assessment only as the most common main treatment (36% of episodes), followed by counselling (30%), and withdrawal management (15%) (Figure 19; Table SE SA.20)
  • where an additional treatment was provided as a supplementary to the main treatment, counselling (6%) was the most common additional treatment, followed by withdrawal management (2%).

Over the period 2014–15 to 2018–19:

  • the proportion of closed treatment episodes where assessment only was a main treatment fluctuated, peaking at 42% of episodes in 2015–16 and falling to 36% in 2018–19
  • counselling as a main treatment type also fluctuated, from 24% in 2014–15, to 21% in 2017–18 rising to 30% in 2018–19
  • the proportion of closed episodes where assessment only was the main treatment remained considerably higher than the national proportion (ranging from 17% to 19%) (Tables SE SA.20 and ST.2).

South Australia reported a high proportion of treatment episodes where assessment only is the most common treatment type, relating in part to the SA Police Drug Diversion Initiative (PDDI).

The grouped horizontal bar chart shows that, in 2018–19, the most common main treatment type provided to clients in South Australia for their own drug use was assessment only (36% of episodes). This was followed by counselling (30%), withdrawal management (15%), and information and education only (5.3%). Apart from ‘other’, the most common additional treatment type was counselling (6.0% of episodes).

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Agencies

In 2018–19, in South Australia:

  • almost two-thirds (63%) of AOD agencies were non-government treatment agencies that receive public funding
  • under half (46%) of all treatment agencies were located in Major cities, followed by Inner regional areas (21%) and Outer regional areas (20%) (Figure 20; Table SA.3)
  • Very remote areas had the lowest number of treatment agencies (5%)
  • in all remoteness areas, at least half (50%) of treatment agencies were non-government organisations.

Over the 5 years to 2018–19, the number of publicly funded treatment agencies in South Australia decreased from 89 to 84 (Table SA.1).

The horizontal bar chart shows that most treatment agencies in South Australia were located in Major cities (39 agencies), followed by Inner regional (18 agencies) and Outer regional (17 agencies) areas. Of the total 84 treatment agencies, most (53 agencies) were non-government agencies.

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