Drugs of concern

In 2016–17, alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern in episodes provided to clients for their own drug use in Victoria (28% of clients, and 30% of episodes) (Figure 6; Tables SC VIC.4 and SD.8). Amphetamines were also common as a principal drug, accounting for more than one-fifth of episodes (23%), followed by cannabis (17%), and heroin (6%). The category ‘other drugs of concern’ constituted a substantial proportion of closed treatment episodes in Victoria, although slightly decreasing from 19% in 2015–16 to 18% in 2016–17. This is due to:

  • reporting practices by service providers
  • a number of large Victorian service providers implementing their own in-house client management systems resulting in an increase of generic other drugs of concern.

When episodes for additional drugs of concern are considered, both nicotine and cannabis were the most common additional drugs of concern, accounting for 15% of closed treatment episodes each, followed by alcohol (12%), and amphetamines (9%) (clients can nominate up to 5 additional drugs of concern for their treatment episode).

Over the 5 years to 2016–17, alcohol has remained the most common principal drug of concern for episodes provided to clients for their own drug use, although steadily decreasing. Amphetamines has remained the second most common principal drug of concern for the second year in a row, having replaced cannabis in 2015–16. Cannabis has remained stable at 17% of closed treatment episodes over the past 2 years, where it dropped from 22% in 2014–15. Over the 5 years from 2012–13, the proportion of closed treatment episodes with a principal drug of concern of amphetamines rose from 13% to 23%, while episodes with a principal drug of concern of heroin decreased from 10% to 6% (Table SD.2).

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