Data and methods

For technical notes on the state and territory summaries refer to Technical notes - state and territory summaries.

Age

Age is calculated as at the start of the episode.

Data collection process

For most states and territories, the data provided for the national collection are a subset of a more detailed jurisdictional data set used for planning and policy. Figure A1 shows the processes involved in constructing the national data.

Figure A1: Alcohol and other drug treatment data collection flowchart

 

Drugs of concern

The AODTS NMDS contains data on drugs of concern that are coded using the ABS’s Australian Standard Classification of Drugs of Concern (ASCDC) (ABS 2011). In this report, these drugs are grouped (Table A1).

Table A1: Groupings of drugs of concern

Group

ASCDC codes

Category

Includes

Analgesics 

1000–1999

Codeine

 

 

Morphine

 

 

Buprenorphine

 

 

Heroin

 

 

Methadone

 

 

Other opioids

Oxycodone, fentanyl, pethidine

 

Other analgesics

Paracetamol

Sedatives and hypnotics

2000–2999

Alcohol

Ethanol, methanol and other alcohols

 

Benzodiazepines

Clonazepam, diazepam and temazepam

 

Other sedatives and hypnotics

Ketamine, nitrous oxide, barbiturates and kava

Stimulants and hallucinogens 

3000–3999

Amphetamines

Amphetamine, dexamphetamine and methamphetamine

 

Ecstasy (MDMA)

 

 

Cocaine

 

 

Nicotine

 

 

Other stimulants and hallucinogens

Volatile nitrates, ephedra alkaloids, phenethylamines, tryptamines and caffeine

Cannabinoids

7000–7199

Cannabis

 

Other

4000–6999

9000–9999

Other

Anabolic agents and selected hormones, antidepressants and antipsychotics, volatile solvents, diuretics and opioid antagonists

Not stated

0000–0002

Not stated

 

In this report, pharmaceutical drugs were grouped using 10 drug types, making up the pharmaceuticals group for the purposes of the analysis. These drugs correspond to the ASCDC codes and classifications (Table A2).

Table A2: Pharmaceutical drugs of concern, ASCDC codes and classifications

Drug category

ASCDC
code

ASCDC classification
(broad group and narrow group/s)

Drug description
(ASCDC base level unit/s)

Codeine

1101

Analgesics

Organic opiate analgesics

Codeine

Morphine

1102

Analgesics

Organic opiate analgesics

Morphine

Buprenorphine

1201

Analgesics

Semisynthetic opioid analgesics

Buprenorphine

Oxycodone

1203

Analgesics

Semisynthetic opioid analgesics

Oxycodone

Methadone

1305

Analgesics

Synthetic opioid analgesics

Methadone

Benzodiazepines

2400–2499

Sedatives and hypnotics

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines n.f.d., alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam, flunitrazepam, lorazepam, nitrazepam, oxazepam, temazepam, benzodiazepines n.e.c.

Steroids

4000–4999

Anabolic agents and selected hormones

Anabolic androgenic steroids

Beta2 agonists

Peptide hormones, mimetics and analogues

Other anabolic agents and selected hormones

Not further defined

Anabolic agents and selected hormones n.f.d., anabolic androgenic steroids n.f.d., boldene, dehydroepiandrosterone, fluoxymesterone, mesterolone, methandriol, methenolone, nandrolone, oxandrolone, stanozolol, testosterone, anabolic androgenic steroids n.e.c., beta2 agonists n.f.d., eformoterol, fenoterol, salbutamol, beta2 agonists n.e.c., peptide hormones, mimetics and analogues n.f.d., chorionic gonadotrophin, corticotrophin, erythropoietin, growth hormone, insulin, peptide hormones, mimetics and analogues n.e.c., other anabolic agents and selected hormones n.f.d., sulfonylurea hypoglycaemic agents, tamoxifen, thyroxine, other anabolic agents and selected hormones n.e.c.

Other opioids

1100, 1199, 1200, 1299, 1300–1304, 1306–1399

Analgesics

Organic opiate analgesics

Semisynthetic opioid analgesics

Synthetic opioid analgesics

Not further defined

Organic opiate analgesics n.f.d., organic opiate analgesics n.e.c., semisynthetic opioid analgesics n.f.d., semisynthetic opioid analgesics n.e.c., synthetic opioid analgesics n.f.d., fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, levomethadyl acetate hydrochloride, meperidine analogues, pethidine, tramadol, synthetic opioid analgesics n.e.c.

Other analgesics

0005, 1000, 1400–1499

Analgesics

Non-opioid analgesics

Not further defined

Analgesics n.f.d., non-opioid analgesics n.f.d., acetylsalicylic acid, paracetamol, ibuprofen, non-opioid analgesics n.e.c.

Other sedatives and hypnotics

2000,
2200–2299, 2300–2399, 2500–2599, 2900–2999

Sedatives and hypnotics

Anaesthetics

Barbiturates

Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) type drugs and analogues

Other sedatives and hypnotics

Sedatives and hypnotics n.f.d., anaesthetics n.f.d., ketamine, nitrous oxide, phencyclidine, propofol, anaesthetics n.e.c., barbiturates n.f.d., amylobarbitone, methylphenobarbitone, phenobarbitone, barbiturates n.e.c., GHB-type drugs and analogues n.f.d., GHB, gamma-butyrolactone, 1,4-butanediol, GHB-type drugs and analogues n.e.c., other sedatives and hypnotics n.f.d., chlormethiazole, kava lactones, zopclone, doxylamine, promethazine, zolpidem, other sedatives and hypnotics n.e.c.

n.f.d—not further defined; n.e.c—not elsewhere classified.

Duration

Duration is calculated in whole days, and only for closed episodes.

Population rates

In this publication, crude rates were calculated using the ABS’s estimated resident population at the midpoint of the data range: that is, rates for 2019–20 data were calculated using the estimated resident population at 31 December 2019.

Reason for cessation

The AODTS NMDS contains data on the reason an episode ended (reason for cessation). In this report, these reasons are grouped (Table A3), but data for the individual end reasons are available in the online supplementary tables.

A different method was used for grouping end reasons in reports released before 2014, so trend comparisons across reports should be made with caution. It is possible to compare data at the individual end reasons using the supplementary tables.

Table A3: Grouping of cessation reasons, by indicative outcome type

Outcome type

Reason for cessation

Expected/planned completion

Treatment completed

Ceased to participate at expiation

Ceased to participate by mutual agreement

Ended due to unplanned completion

Ceased to participate against advice

Ceased to participate without notice

Ceased to participate due to non-compliance

Referred to another service/change in treatment mode

Change in main treatment type

Change in delivery setting

Change in principal drug of concern

Transferred to another service provider

Other

Drug court or sanctioned by court diversion service

Imprisoned (other than drug court sanctioned)

Died

Other

Not stated

Remoteness area

This report uses the ABS’s Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Remoteness Structure 2016 (ABS 2016b) to analyse the proportion of AOD treatment agencies by remoteness area. This structure allows areas that share common characteristics of remoteness to be classified into broad geographic regions of Australia. These areas are:

  • Major cities
  • Remote
  • Inner regional
  • Very remote
  • Outer regional

The remoteness structure divides each state and territory into several regions based on their relative access to services.

Examples of urban centres in each remoteness area are:

  • Major cities          Canberra, Newcastle
  • Inner regional      Hobart, Bendigo
  • Outer regional     Cairns, Darwin
  • Remote                 Katherine, Mount Isa
  • Very remote          Tennant Creek, Meekatharra.

For this report, the remoteness area of the agency was determined using the Statistical Area Level 2 (SA2) of the agency. Not all SA2 codes fit neatly within a single remoteness category, and a ratio is applied to reapportion each SA2 to the applicable remoteness categories. As a result, it is possible that the number of agencies in a particular remoteness category is not a whole number. After rounding, this can result in there being ‘<0.5%’ agencies in a remoteness area, due to the agency’s SA2 partially crossing into the remoteness area.

The Australian Statistical Geography Standard ASGS has replaced the Australian Standard Geographical Classification 2006 (ABS 2006), which was used in previous reports to calculate remoteness areas. Therefore, remoteness data for 2011–12 and previous years are not comparable with those for 2012–13 and subsequent years.

Service sectors

From 2008–09, agencies funded by the Department of Health under the Non-Government Organisation Treatment Grants Program (NGOTGP) were classified as non‑government agencies. Before this, many of these agencies were classified as government agencies. As a result, trends in service sectors of agencies should be interpreted with caution.

Source of referral: diversion

Throughout Australia, there are programs that divert people who have been apprehended or sentenced for a minor drugs offence from the criminal justice system. Many of these diversions result in clients receiving drug treatment services, who have been referred to treatment agencies as part of a drug diversion program. Since the 1980s, Australian governments have supported programs aimed at diverting from the criminal justice system people who have been apprehended or sentenced with a minor drugs offence.

In Australia, drug diversion program come in two main forms:

  • Police diversion occurs when an offence is first detected by a law enforcement officer. It usually applies for minor use or possession offences, often relating to cannabis, and can involve the offender being cautioned, receiving a fine and/or having to attend education or assessment sessions.
  • Court diversion occurs after a charge is laid. It usually applies for offences where criminal behaviour was related to drug use (for example, burglary or public order offence). Bail-based programs generally involve assessment and treatment, while pre‑ and post-sentence programs (including drug courts) tend to involve intensive treatment and are aimed at repeat offenders.

Treatment

The number of closed treatment episodes for counselling as a main treatment type has remained the most common treatment type for all clients over all collection years. Fluctuations over time in closed treatment episodes for particular treatment types may be influenced by coding practices, increased funding or changes in treatment policies/ capacity to provide specialised alcohol and other drug treatment services, which may contribute to variation in treatment types over time.

Trends

Trend data may differ from data published in previous versions of Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia, due to data revisions.

Imputation methodology for AOD clients

From the inception of the AODTS NMDS, data have been collected only about treatment episodes provided by AOD treatment services. Data about the clients those episodes relate to have not been available at a national level. An SLK was introduced into the AODTS NMDS for the 2012–13 collection to enable the number of clients receiving treatment to be counted, while continuing to ensure the privacy of these individuals receiving treatment.

An imputation strategy for the collection was developed to correct for the impact of invalid or missing SLKs on the total number of clients. This strategy takes into account several factors relating to the number of episodes per client and makes assumptions relating to spread across agencies. It also takes into consideration the likelihood that an episode with a missing SLK relates to a client that has already been counted through other episodes with a valid SLK.

To ensure an accurate representation of the AODTS client population, imputation was applied to the 2012–13, 2013–14 and 2015–16 AODTS NMDS to account for the proportion of valid SLKs being less than 95% for these years. The national rate of valid SLKs for these years was largely affected by low proportions of valid SLKs in New South Wales.