New South Wales

In 2019–20, 473 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in New South Wales provided 51,451 closed treatment episodes to 31,549 clients (tables SA.1, SCR.21). New South Wales reported:

  • a 2% decrease in closed treatment episodes from 52,563 in 2018–19 to 51,451 in 2019–20, and a 9% increase in closed treatment episodes since 2015–16 (47,371).
  • client numbers have increased from 29,071 in 2015–16 to 31,549 in 2019–20 (note: 2015–16 client numbers are based on imputed values).

The visualisation shows that 51,451 closed treatment episodes were provided to an estimated 31,549 clients in New South Wales in 2019–20. This equates to a rate of 723 episodes and 443 clients per 100,000 population, which is lower than the national rate (1,064 episodes and 624 clients per 100,000 population).

 

In 2019–20, most clients (78%) in New South Wales attended 1 agency, and received an average of 1.6 closed treatment episodes, which is similar to the national average of 1.7 treatment episodes (tables SCR.21, SCR.23).


Client demographics

In 2019–20:

  • nearly all (98%) clients in New South Wales received treatment for their own alcohol or drug use, of which, most were male (66%) (Figure 1)
  • clients who received treatment or support for someone else’s alcohol or drug use were more likely to be female (65%)
  • over half (51%) of all clients were aged 20–39 years
  • nearly 1 in 6 (18%) of all clients identified as Indigenous Australians. This is consistent with the national proportion (17%)
  • the majority (87%) of all clients were born in Australia and nearly all (97%) reported English as their preferred language (tables SC.4, SC NSW.1–3, SC NSW.21–22).

The visualisation includes a series of horizontal bar graphs showing that, in 2019–20, nearly all (98%) clients in New South Wales received treatment for their own drug use. Of these clients, around two-thirds (66%) were male, 52% were aged 20–39, and 18% were Indigenous Australians. Nearly all clients (97%) listed English as their preferred language and most (87%) were born in Australia.

Patterns of service use

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20, 101,503 clients received treatment in New South Wales. Of these clients:

  • the majority received treatment in a single year (73%):
    • 18% (17,895) received treatment for the first time in 2019–20
    • a further 55% (55,464) received treatment in only one of the four collection periods (excluding 2019–20)
  • 19% (18,788) of clients received treatment in any 2 of the 5 years
  • 6.3% (6,420) of clients received treatment in any 3 of the 5 years
  • 2.3% (2,286) of clients received treatment in any 4 of the 5 years
  • 0.6% (650) of clients received treatment in all 5 collection years (Table SCR.28).

Drugs of concern

In 2019–20, for clients in New South Wales receiving treatment episodes for their own alcohol or drug use (Figure 2; SE NSW.10):

  • alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern (38% of episodes)
  • amphetamines as a principal drug of concern accounted for over one-quarter of episodes (26%), followed by cannabis (16%), and heroin (8%).
  • within the amphetamines group:
    • methamphetamine was reported as a principal drug of concern in 88% of treatment episodes (Figure 2a)
    • in over half (51%) of the treatment episodes where methamphetamine was the principal drug of concern, smoking was the most common method of use, followed by injecting (39%) (Figure 2b).

Some jurisdictions are working with service providers to encourage more specific reporting of amphetamine use (i.e. to reduce the use of ‘amphetamines not further defined’ code where possible).

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 2019–20, when the client reported additional drugs of concern:

  • nicotine was the most common additional drug of concern (12% of episodes), followed by cannabis (11%), amphetamines and alcohol (both 7%) (Table SE NSW.11).

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20:

  • alcohol remained the most common principal drug of concern in treatment episodes provided to clients, increasing marginally over the 5 year period from 37% to 38%
  • amphetamines were the second most common principal drug of concern in New South Wales in 2019–20, and have increased since 2015–16 (from 24% to 26%) (SE NSW.11)
  • within the amphetamines group, methamphetamine was reported as the principal drug of concern in over half of episodes (56%) in 2015–16, rising to 63% in 2017–18 before a considerable increase to 88% in 2019–20 (Figure 2a); the rise in episodes may be related to increases in funded treatment services and/ or improvement in agency coding practices for methamphetamines
  • cannabis is now the third most common principal drug of concern, decreasing from 17% to 16% in 2019–20 (SE NSW.11)
  • these trends are consistent with the national picture (Table SD.2).

The grouped horizontal bar chart shows that, in 2019–20, alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern in treatment episodes provided to clients in New South Wales for their own drug use (38%). This was followed by amphetamines (26%), cannabis (16%), and heroin (8.0%). Nicotine was the most common additional drug of concern (12% of episodes), followed by cannabis (11%), amphetamines (7.4%), and alcohol (6.5%).

The line graph shows that, between 2015–16 and 2019–20, methamphetamine has remained the most common drug of concern among meth/amphetamine-related treatment episodes for clients’ own drug use. The proportion of methamphetamine-related episodes increased from 56% of meth/amphetamine-related episodes in 2015–16 to 88% in 2019–20. In 2019–20, amphetamines not further defined was the second most common drug of concern in meth/amphetamine-related episodes (7.8%), followed by amphetamine (4.3%).

The stacked horizontal bar chart shows the method of use for treatment episodes related to clients’ own use of methamphetamine, amphetamine, amphetamines not further defined, and other amphetamines in New South Wales in 2019–20. Smoking was the most common method of use across all amphetamine codes (33–51% of treatment episodes), followed by injecting (33–41% of episodes).


Treatment

In 2019–20, for treatment episodes in New South Wales:

  • counselling was the most common main treatment provided (39% of episodes), followed by support and case management (15%)
  • where an additional treatment was provided as a supplementary to the main treatment, ‘other’ treatment (12%) was the most common followed by counselling (8%) (Table SE NSW.20). See technical notes for further information on calculating proportions for additional treatment type.

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20:

  • counselling remained the most common main treatment type for all episodes;  the largest decrease was from 42% in 2016–17 to 37% in 2017–18, then rising to 39% in 2019–20
  • withdrawal management rose from 14% in 2015–16 to 17% in 2017–18, then decreased to 14% in 2019–20 (Table SE NSW.20).

The grouped horizontal bar chart shows that, in 2019–20, the most common main treatment type provided to clients in New South Wales for their own drug use was counselling (39% of episodes). This was followed by support and case management (16%),withdrawal management (14%), and assessment only (13%).  Other was the most common additional treatment type (12%), followed by Counselling (7.6%).


Agencies

In 2019–20, in New South Wales:

  • around 6 in 10 (62%) AOD agencies were government treatment agencies
  • the majority (63%) of the 473 publicly funded treatment agencies were located in Major cities, followed by Inner regional areas (29%)
  • agencies located in Major cities provided 68% of all closed treatment episodes  
  • less than 1% of treatment agencies were located in Remote areas – these provided less than 1% (310) of all episodes
  • across all remoteness areas, the majority of agencies were government agencies, ranging from 61% in Major cities to 100% in Very remote areas (Figure 4; tables SA.3, SA.4).

In the period 2010–11 to 2019–20, the number of publicly funded treatment agencies in New South Wales rose from 262 to 473 (Table SA.1).

The horizontal bar chart shows that most treatment agencies in New South Wales were located in Major cities (300 agencies), followed by Inner regional (138 agencies) and Outer regional (31 agencies) areas. Relatively fewer treatment agencies (6 agencies) were located in Remote and Very remote areas. Of the total 473 treatment agencies, most (295 agencies) were government agencies.