Treatment referrals are part of treatment interventions that aim to reduce immediate or short-term harms; engage and support people; and refer people into treatment. As part of care co-ordination case management involves ongoing treatment planning, goal setting, review and facilitation for the client to achieve their goals including a supported referral and system navigation support to other services, as required. It includes ensuring links are made with health or social welfare services, and that care is coordinated across care settings and systems (Department of Health 2019).
- self/family was the most common source of referral (35%)
- over three quarters (77%) of episodes ended within 3 months
- around 3 in 5 (59%) treatment episodes had an expected/planned completion
- the median duration of episodes for a clients’ own alcohol or drug use was almost 4 weeks (27 days), while support for someone else’s alcohol or drug use was longer, 5 weeks (37 days).
Over the 10-year period to 2020–21:
- source of referral episodes for self/family decreased from 42% in 2011–12 to 35% in 2020–21
- the proportion of episodes with an expected cessation decreased from 68% to 59%.
In 2020–21, for all clients:
- the most common source of referral treatment episodes was self/family (35% or 84,524 episodes) followed by health services (33% or 80,422 episodes);
- this referral pattern was consistent for most treatment types
- health services being the most common referrals for withdrawal management (43%), other treatment (43%) and support and case management (36%) (Table Trt.11).
- where a referral came from an ‘other’ referral source, treatment episodes increased from 8% in 2011–12 to 16% in 2020–21, and diversion referrals fell from 14% to 9% over the same period (Table Trt.11).
The most common source of referrals for a client’s own alcohol or drug use and someone else’s alcohol or drug use were similar in 2020–21:
- self/family (35%) was most common for a client’s own alcohol or drug use, followed by health service (34%)
- whereas ‘other’ referral (36%) was most common for clients receiving treatment for someone else’s alcohol or drug use followed by self/family referrals (34%).
Over the 10-year period to 2020–21, treatment episodes where the referral source was:
- self/family referrals decreased from 42% in 2011–12 to 35% in 2020–21
- health service referrals increased from 27% to 33% over this time as well as ‘other’ referrals from 8% to 16% (tables Trt.10, Trt.11).
The source of referral varied according to clients’ principal drug of concern. In 2020–21, for example, among episodes for a client’s own alcohol or drug use (Figure TREATMENT1):
- for episodes where the principal drug of concern was alcohol, referrals from health service increased from 31% in 2011–12 to 43% in 2020–21
- for episodes where amphetamines were the principal drug of concern referrals from health service increased from 21% to 28% since 2011–12 and referrals for self/family decreased from 43% to 36%
- where cannabis was reported as the principal drug of concern, the proportion of diversion (police or court diversion program) referrals increased from 2011–12 (25%) to 2015–16 (38%) falling to 21% in 2019–20 then rising to 25% in 2020–21. Over half of all diversion treatment episodes were for Cannabis (52%)
- diversion as a referral source was less common among clients receiving treatment for alcohol (2% of episodes), heroin (4%) and most common for ecstasy (31%) and cannabis (25%) (Table Drg.13).
Figure TREATMENT1: Treatment episodes for own drug use, by principal drug of concern and grouped referral source, 2011–12 to 2020–21 (per cent)