Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: early insights, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 26 May 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: early insights. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-aus
Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: early insights. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 14 April 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-aus
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: early insights [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 May. 26]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-aus
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: early insights, viewed 26 May 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-aus
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The health impacts associated with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use include hospitalisation, mental health conditions, physical injury, overdose and mortality. Tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use together account for 16.1% of the burden of disease in Australia (AIHW 2021).
The social impacts of AOD use in Australia include involvement in criminal activity, engagement in risky behaviours, victimisation and road trauma. In 2016, 1 in 10 (9.9%) recent drinkers and 15.1% of people who had recently used illicit drugs had driven while intoxicated (AIHW 2017). In 2019, 1 in 5 (21%) Australians aged 14 and over were victims of an alcohol-related incident and 10.5% were victims of an illicit drug-related incident (AIHW 2020).
The use and misuse of licit and illicit drugs imposes a heavy financial cost on the Australian community. In recent years, the separate costs of tobacco ($136.9 billion in 2015–16), opioid ($15.76 billion in 2015–16), methamphetamine (over $5 billion in 2013–14) and alcohol use ($66.8 billion in 2017–18) in Australia have been estimated, utilising different methodologies (Whetton et al. 2021; Whetton et al. 2020; Whetton et al. 2019; Whetton et al. 2016).
Alcohol and tobacco are two of the most widely used drugs in Australia. The most recent 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey reported that of Australians aged 14 and over:
In 2019, illicit drug use was relatively common among Australians aged 14 and over (AIHW 2020):
Australia has had a coordinated approach to dealing with alcohol and other drugs since 1985. The National Drug Strategy (NDS) 2017–2026 is the 7th and latest iteration of the cooperative strategy between the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and the non-government sector. The NDS provides a framework that identifies national priorities relating to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, guides action by governments—in partnership with service providers and the community—and outlines a national commitment to harm minimisation through balanced adoption of effective demand, supply, and harm reduction strategies.
The NDS has an overarching approach of harm minimisation and encompasses 3 pillars, each with specific objectives (NDSC 2017):
The collection of treatment services data, for example in the AODTS NMDS, forms part of the evidence base reinforcing harm reduction actions in the strategy, which include (NDSC 2017):
AOD treatment services provide support to people regarding their use of alcohol or drugs through a range of treatments. Treatment objectives can include reduction or cessation of substance use, as well as improving social and personal functioning. Treatment and assistance may also be provided to support the family and friends of people who have problems with alcohol or drug use. Treatment services include detoxification and rehabilitation, counselling, and pharmacotherapy, and are delivered in residential and non‑residential settings.
In Australia, publicly funded treatment services for AOD use are available in all states and territories. Most of these services are funded by state and territory governments, while some are funded by the Australian Government. Information on publicly funded AOD treatment services in Australia, clients, and drug treatment are collected through the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS). The AODTS NMDS is one of several NMDSs that collect data under the 2012 National Healthcare Agreement to inform policy and help improve service delivery (COAG 2012).
Other available data sources that support a more complete picture of AOD treatment in Australia include:
The AODTS NMDS contains information on treatment provided to clients by publicly funded AOD treatment services, including government and non-government organisations. Information on clients and treatment services are included in the AODTS NMDS when a treatment episode provided to a client is closed (see Key terminology and glossary).
Information on the following types of treatment are reported:
The AODTS NMDS collects data about services provided to people who are seeking assistance for their own alcohol or drug use and those seeking assistance for someone else’s alcohol or drug use.
Client information is collected at the episode level in the AODTS NMDS. Further details on the estimation of client numbers and the imputation methodology can be found in data and methods.
Data collected by treatment agencies are forwarded to the relevant state and territory health departments, who then extract required data according to the specifications in the AODTS NMDS. Data are submitted to the AIHW annually for national collation and reporting.
Although the AODTS NMDS collection covers the majority of publicly funded AOD treatment services, including government and non-government organisations, it is difficult to fully quantify the scope of AOD services in Australia.
People receive treatment for alcohol and other drug-related issues in a variety of settings not in scope for the AODTS NMDS. These include:
In addition, agencies whose sole function is prescribing or providing dosing services for opioid pharmacotherapy are excluded from the AODTS NMDS. These data are captured in the AIHW’s National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data collection.
Note: Those in scope for the AODTS NMDS are shaded darker blue.
The Australian Government funds primary healthcare services and substance use services specifically for Indigenous Australians. These services may be in scope for the AODTS NMDS but the majority of the services currently do not report to the NMDS. These services previously reported via the Australian Government-funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander substance use services, via the Online Services Report (OSR) data collection, However, the substance use services program was transferred to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and then to the National Indigenous Australian Agency. Since the cessation of the OSR data collection, the number of substance use services for Indigenous Australians in-scope and reporting to the AODTS NMDS has gradually increased.
In 2020–21, 96% (1,278) of in-scope agencies submitted data to the AODTS NMDS. Overall, from 2019–20 to 2020–21, there was a increase of 2 percentage points in the proportion of in-scope agencies that reported to the collection. For the 2014–15 and 2015–16 reporting periods, sector reforms and system issues in some jurisdictions affected the number of in‑scope agencies that reported. This led to an under-count of the number of closed treatment episodes reported for these years, so results, especially across reporting years, should be interpreted with caution.
Further details on scope, coverage and data quality are available from the AODTS NMDS Data Quality Statement.
AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2017. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2016: detailed findings. Drug Statistics series no. 31. Cat. no. PHE 214. Canberra: AIHW
AIHW 2020. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019: detailed findings. Drug Statistics series no. 32. Cat. no. PHE 270. Canberra: AIHW.
AIHW 2021. Australian Burden of Disease Study: Impact and causes of illness and death in Australia 2018. Cat. no. BOD 29. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 9 March 2022.
COAG (Council of Australian Governments) 2012. The National Health Reform Agreement. Canberra: COAG. Viewed 18 March 2022.
NDSC (National Drug Strategy Committee) 2017. National Drug Strategy 2017–2026. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) 2009. Australian guidelines to reduce health risks from drinking alcohol. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.
Whetton S, Shanahan M, Cartwright K, Duraisingam V, Ferrante A, Gray D, Kaye S, Kostadinov V, McKetin R, Pidd K, Roche A, Tait R, Allsop S 2016. The social costs of methamphetamine in Australia 2013/14. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia.
Whetton S, Tait R, Scollo M, Banks E, Chapman J, Dey T, Abdul Halim S, Makate M, McEntee A, Muhktar A, Norman R, Pidd K 2019. Identifying the Social Costs of Tobacco Use to Australia in 2015/16. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia. Viewed 22 October 2019.
Whetton S, Tait R, Chrzanowka A, Donnelly N, McEntee, Muhktar A, et al. 2020. Quantifying the social costs of pharmaceutical opioid misuse & illicit opioid use to Australia in 2015/16. National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia.
Whetton S, Tait R J, Gilmore W, Dey T, Agramunt S, Abdul Halim S, McEntee A, Mukhtar A, Roche A, Allsop S and Chikritzhs T (2021) Examining the social and economic costs of alcohol use in Australia: 2017/18, National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, accessed 31 March 2022.
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