Northern Territory

In 2019–20, 25 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in the Northern Territory provided 8,565 closed treatment episodes to 3,776 clients (tables SA.1–2, SCR.21).

The Northern Territory reported:

  • an 18% increase in closed treatment episodes from 7,267 in 2018–19 to 8,565 in 2019–20, and a 64% increase in closed treatment episodes since 2015–16 (5,222)
  • client numbers rose steadily over the 5 year period, ranging from 3,209 in 2015–16 to 3,776 in 2019–20 (note: 2015–16 client numbers are based on imputed values).

The visualisation shows that 8,565 closed treatment episodes were provided to an estimated 3,776 clients in the Northern Territory in 2019–20. This equates to a rate of 4,094 episodes and 1,805 clients per 100,000 population, a higher rate than the 1,064 episodes and 624 clients per 100,000 population reported nationally.

In 2019–20, most (79%) clients in the Northern Territory attended 1 agency, and received an average of 2.3 closed treatment episodes, which is higher than the national average of 1.7 treatment episodes (tables SCR.21, SCR.23).


Client demographics

In 2019–20:

  • most (95%) clients in the Northern Territory received treatment for their own alcohol or drug use, of which, most were male (72%) (Figure 29)
  • clients receiving treatment for someone else’s alcohol or drug use were more likely to be female (59%)
  • over half (56%) of all clients were aged 20–39 years, and 14% of clients were aged 10–19 years which is higher the national proportion (12%)
  • 7 in 10 (72%) of all clients identified as Indigenous Australians, higher than the national proportion (17%) and higher than the proportion of Indigenous people living in the NT
  • nearly all (94%) clients were born in Australia and more than half (57%) reported English as their preferred language, with a third (33%) reporting Indigenous languages as their preferred language (tables SC NT.1–3, SC.3–4, SC NT.21–22).

The visualisation includes a series of horizontal bar graphs showing that, in 2019–20, over 9 in 10 (95%) clients in the Northern Territory received treatment for their own drug use. Of these clients, almost one-quarter (72%) were male, 57% were aged 20–39, and 74% were Indigenous Australians. Around half of all clients (56%) listed English as their preferred language and most (95%) were born in Australia.

Patterns of service use

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20, 12,322 clients received treatment in the Northern Territory. Of these clients:

  • the majority received treatment in a single year (69%):
    • 16% (1,980) received treatment for the first time in 2019–20
    • a further 53% (6,592) received treatment in only one of the four collection periods (excluding 2019–20)
  • 21% (2,584) of clients received treatment in any 2 of the 5 years
  • 6.4% (790) of clients received treatment in any 3 of the 5 years
  • 2.3% (285) of clients received treatment in any 4 of the 5 years
  • 0.7% (91) of clients received treatment in all 5 collection years (Table SCR.28).

Drugs of concern

In 2019–20, for clients in the Northern Territory receiving treatment episodes for their own alcohol or drug use:

  • alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern for clients (66% of episodes) (Figure 30; Tables SE NT.10)
  • cannabis and amphetamines were the second most common principal drugs (both 13%), followed by volatile solvents (5%), which is much higher than the national proportion (less than 1%) (Table SD.2)
  • within the amphetamines group:
    • methamphetamine was reported as a principal drug of concern in around 4 in 5 (81%) treatment episodes (Figure 30a)
    • in half (50%) of treatment episodes where methamphetamine was a principal drug of concern smoking was the most common method of use, followed by injecting (44%) (Figure 30b).

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:

  • cannabis was the most common additional drug (19% of episodes), followed by nicotine (14%) and alcohol (11%) (Table SE NT.11).

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20:

  • alcohol remained the most common principal drug of concern ranging from 48% to 66% over the period. The proportion of episodes for alcohol remains consistently higher than the national proportion (for example, 66% compared with 34% nationally in 2019–20) (Table SD.2).  
  • amphetamines and cannabis both decreased over this time period (14% to 13% and 19% to 13%, respectively).
  • within the amphetamines group, methamphetamine was reported as the principal drug of concern in almost 2 in 3 episodes (65%) in 2015–16, rising to 85% in 2017–18 and declining to 81% in 2019–20 (Figure 30a). The rise in methamphetamine episodes maybe related to changes in the illicit drug market and/or changes in service provider practices.
  • the proportion of closed episodes for volatile solvents as a principal drug of concern decreased from 12% in 2015–16 to 5% in 2019–20.
     

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 the Northern Territory for their own drug use (66%). This was followed by amphetamines and cannabis (both 13%) and volatile solvents (5.1%). Cannabis was the most common additional drug of concern (19%), followed by nicotine (14%), alcohol (11%), and amphetamines (4.9%).

The line graph shows that, between 2015–16 and 2019–20, methamphetamine has remained the most common drug of concern among amphetamine-related treatment episodes for clients’ own drug use. The proportion of methamphetamine-related episodes increased from 65% in 2015–16 to 81% in 2019–20, peaking at 85% in 2017–18. Conversely, there was a decrease in the proportion of episodes relating to amphetamines not further defined (from 18% to 17%) and amphetamines (from 17% to 1.5%).

The stacked horizontal bar chart shows the method of use for treatment episodes related to clients’ own use of amphetamines in the Northern Territory in 2019–20. Smoking was the most common method of use for amphetamine and methamphetamine (31% and 50% respectively). Injecting was the most common method of use for amphetamines not further defined (60%) whilst ingesting was the most common for other amphetamines (100%). The second most common method of use varied by amphetamine code.


Treatment

In 2019–20, for closed episodes in the Northern Territory:

  • assessment only was the most common main treatment (41% of episodes), followed by information and education (25%) (Figure 31; Table ST.5)
  • where an additional treatment was provided as a supplementary to the main treatment, counselling (13%) was the most common additional treatment. See technical notes for further information on calculating proportions for additional treatment type.

All agencies in the Northern Territory are required to complete a separate assessment only episode prior to the commencement of treatment. This is due to a policy of monitoring the volume of assessment work performed by agencies and understanding the relationship between assessment and subsequent treatment, particularly in relation to certain alcohol-related legislatively-based programs. This policy was introduced in 2018 (reported in the 2017–18 collection year).

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20:

  • assessment only remained the most common main treatment, although the proportion of episodes fluctuated (increasing from 32% in 2016–17 to 47% in 2017–18 before falling to 41% in 2019–20)
  • the proportion of episodes where counselling was the main treatment peaked in 2016–17 (25%), falling to 13% of episodes in 2019–20
  • the proportion of closed treatment episodes where rehabilitation was the main treatment has fluctuated since 2015–16, rising from 19% to 25% in 2016–17 then falling to 13% in 2019–20 (Table SE NT.20).
     

The grouped horizontal bar chart shows that, in 2019–20, the most common main treatment type provided to clients in the Northern Territory for their own drug use was assessment only (41% of episodes). This was followed by information and education only (25%), counselling and rehabilitation (both 13%). Counselling was also the most common additional treatment type (13%).


Agencies

The Northern Territory does not have any areas classified as Major city or Inner regional. It only has locations classified as Outer regional, Remote or Very remote.

In 2019–20:

  • the majority of the 25 treatment agencies were in the non-government sector (80%)
  • Outer regional areas contained the most treatment agencies (48%), followed by Remote areas (32%) (Figure 32; Table SA.3).

In the 5 years to 2019–20, the number of publicly funded treatment agencies rose from 23 to 25 (Table SA.1).

This horizontal bar chart shows that the Northern Territory does not have any areas classified as Major cities or Inner regional areas. Most agencies (12 agencies) were located in Outer regional areas, followed by Remote areas (8 agencies). Of the total 25 agencies located in the Northern Territory, most (20 agencies) were non-government.