South Australia

In 2019–20, 85 publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in South Australia provided 9,690 closed treatment episodes to 7,131 clients (tables SA.1, SCR.21). South Australia reported:

  • a 19% decrease in closed treatment episodes from 11,934 in 2018–19 to 9,690 in 2019–20, and a 13% decrease in closed treatment episodes since 2015–16 (11,190)
  • client numbers increased from 8,109 in 2015–16 to 8,681 in 2018–19, dropping to 7,131 in 2019–20 (note: 2015–16 client numbers are based on imputed values).

The visualisation shows that 9,690 closed treatment episodes were provided to an estimated 7,131 clients in South Australia in 2019–20. This equates to a rate of 624 episodes and 459 clients per 100,000 population, a lower rate than the 1,064 episodes and 624 clients per 100,000 population reported nationally.

In 2019–20, most (88%) clients in South Australia attended 1 agency, and received an average of 1.4 closed treatment episodes, which is lower than the national average of 1.7 treatment episodes (tables SCR.21, SCR.23).


Client demographics

In 2019–20:

  • nearly all (99%) clients in South Australia received treatment for their
  • own alcohol or drug use, of which, most (65%) were male (Figure 17)
  • clients receiving treatment for someone else’s alcohol or drug use were more likely to be female (91%); this was greater than the national proportion (50%)
  • over half (53%) of all clients were aged 20–39 years
  • 1 in 8 (13%) of all clients identified as Indigenous Australians, which is lower than the national proportion (17%)
  • the majority (91%) of clients were born in Australia and nearly all (98%) reported English as their preferred language (tables SC SA.1–3, SC.4, SC SA.21–22).

The visualisation includes a series of horizontal bar graphs showing that, in 2019–20, nearly all (99%) clients in South Australia received treatment for their own drug use. Of these clients, almost two-thirds (65%) were male, 54% were aged 20–39, and 13% were Indigenous Australians. Nearly all clients (98%) listed English as their preferred language and most (91%) were born in Australia.

Patterns of service use

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20, 29,937 clients received treatment in South Australia. Of these clients:

  • the majority of clients received treatment in a single year (75%):
    • 14% (4,299) received treatment for the first time in 2019–20
    • a further 61% (18,386) received treatment in only one of the four collection periods (excluding 2019–20)
  • 17% (5,201) of clients received treatment in any 2 of the 5 years
  • 5.0% (1,500) of clients received treatment in any 3 of the 5 years
  • 1.4% (434) of clients received treatment in any 4 of the 5 years
  • 0.4% (117) of clients received treatment in all 5 collection years (Table SCR.28).

Drugs of concern

In 2019–20, 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 (35% of episodes) (Figure 18; Tables SE SA.10); (Figure 18b)
  • within the amphetamines group:
    • methamphetamine was reported as a principal drug of concern in approximately 79% of treatment episodes (Figure 18a)
    • in 62% of treatment episodes where methamphetamine was the principal drug of concern smoking was the most common method of use, followed by injecting (31%) (Figure 18b)
  • alcohol accounted for nearly one-third of treatment episodes (32%), followed by cannabis (15%), and nicotine (7%).

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 (27% of episodes), followed by cannabis (21%), alcohol and amphetamines (both 12%) (Table SE SA.11).

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20:

  • amphetamines replaced alcohol as the most common principal drug of concern for clients in 2015–16 and has fluctuated between 35–37% of episodes over this period.
  • Alcohol has increased from 29% of episodes in 2015–16 to 32% in 2019–20 (Table SE SA.10).
  • within the amphetamines group, methamphetamine was reported as the principal drug of concern in half (50%) of closed treatment episodes for own drug use in 2015–16, rising to 79% in 2019–20 (Figure 18a). The rise in episodes may 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 2019–20, amphetamines was the most common principal drug of concern in treatment episodes provided to clients in South Australia for their own drug use (35%). This was followed by alcohol (32%), cannabis (15%), and nicotine (6.9%). Nicotine was the most common additional drug of concern (27%), followed by cannabis (22%), and alcohol and amphetamines (both 12%).

The line graph shows that methamphetamine is 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 50% in 2015–16 to 79% in 2019–20. Conversely, there was a decrease in the proportion of episodes relating to amphetamines not further defined (from 36% to 11%).

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 2019–20. Smoking was the most common method of use for all treatment episodes (ranging from 45% to 65%). Injecting was the second most common method of use for all treatment episodes (ranging from 30% to 40%).


Treatment

In 2019–20, for treatment episodes in South Australia:

  • assessment only was the most common main treatment (32% of episodes), followed by counselling (29%), and withdrawal management (16%) (Figure 19; Table SE SA.20)
  • where an additional treatment was provided as a supplementary to the main treatment, support and case management (14%) was the most common additional treatment, followed by counselling (8%). See technical notes for further information on calculating proportions for additional treatment type.

Over the period 2015–16 to 2019–20:

  • the proportion of closed treatment episodes where assessment only was a main treatment fell from 42% in 2015–16 to 32% in 2019–20
  • counselling as a main treatment type also fluctuated, from 24% in 2015–16, to 21% in 2017–18 rising to 29% in 2019–20
  • the proportion of closed episodes where assessment only was the main treatment (ranging from 42% to 32%) remained considerably higher than the national proportion (ranging from 16% to 19%) (tables SE SA.20,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 2019–20, the most common main treatment type provided to clients in South Australia for their own drug use was assessment only (32% of episodes). This was followed by counselling (29%), withdrawal management (16%), and support and case management (7.7%). The most common additional treatment type was support and case management (14% of episodes).


Agencies

In 2019–20, in South Australia:

  • almost two-thirds (65%) of 85 AOD agencies that received public funding were non-government treatment agencies
  • under half (46%) of all treatment agencies were located in Major cities, followed by Outer regional areas (24%) and Inner regional areas (22%) (Figure 20; Table SA.3)
  • Very remote areas had the lowest number of treatment agencies (4%)
  • In Major cities, Inner regional, Outer regional and Remote areas at least half (50%) of treatment agencies were non-government organisations.

Over the 5 years to 2019–20, the number of publicly funded treatment agencies in South Australia increased from 78 to 85 (Table SA.1).

The horizontal bar chart shows that most treatment agencies in South Australia were located in Major cities (39 agencies), followed by Outer regional (20 agencies) and Inner regional (19 agencies) areas. Of the total 85 treatment agencies, most (55 agencies) were non-government agencies.