This report presents national, state and territory statistics about alcohol and other drug treatment services and their clients, including information about the types of drug problems for which treatment is sought and the types of treatment provided. This is the third report in the series of annual publications on the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS–NMDS) (AIHW 2002a, 2003a).

The AODTS–NMDS was implemented to assist in monitoring and evaluating key objectives of the National Drug Strategic Framework 1998–99 to 2003–04 and to assist in the planning, management and quality improvement of alcohol and other drug treatment services (see Grant and Petrie 2001 for historical development of the AODTS–NMDS). The AODTS–NMDS will continue to support the National Drug Strategy 2004–09, particularly as trend data become available in the coming years.

Since 1985, Australia’s drug strategies have been based on the principle of minimising harm caused by licit drugs, illicit drugs and other substances. The principle of harm minimisation incorporates harm reduction strategies to reduce drug-related harm to individuals and communities as well as supply and demand reduction strategies. No single data collection can provide all of the information relating to national treatment-related objectives. This report therefore also presents information from a range of other data sources to provide context to the AODTS–NMDS data and present a fuller picture of the current state of alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia today (see Chapter 7).

There is a general expectation that an appropriate and adequate range of treatment services will be accessible for all drug users and their families, regardless of age, ethnic origin, gender, sexual preference and location (MCDS 1998). The data presented in this report, in conjunction with other information sources, can be used to inform issues of access to treatment services as well as to inform debate, policy decisions and planning processes that occur within the alcohol and other drug treatment sector.