Client numbers and characteristics

In 2017–18, 129,832 clients received treatment from publicly funded AOD treatment agencies across Australia. This equates to 601 clients per 100,000 people, or about 1 in 166 people in the general population. Around 96% of clients received treatment for their own drug use, and the remainder received support for someone else's drug use.

Age and sex

Over half (54%) of all clients were aged 20–39, 34% were aged 40 and over and 13% were aged 10–19. This age profile has remained stable over the four years in which client data has been recorded in the AODTS NMDS. The median age of clients also remained relatively stable at 34 years.

Consistent with previous years, just under two-thirds (66%) of all clients receiving treatment in 2017–18 were male. Of the 96% of clients seeking treatment for their own drug use, the majority (67%) were male. Of the remaining 4% of clients who sought treatment for another person’s drug use, most (64%) were female.

Cultural and linguistic diversity

In 2017–18, 16% of AOD treatment services clients aged 10 and over identified as Indigenous Australians. This equates to a rate of 3,597 clients per 100,000 Indigenous Australians, compared with 495 clients per 100,000 non-Indigenous Australians. Indigenous clients were 7 times more likely than non-Indigenous clients to receive treatment services.

The majority (86%) of closed treatment episodes were for clients born in Australia, with the United Kingdom (3%) and New Zealand (2%) being the most common places of birth for clients born outside Australia. These proportions are generally consistent with the Australian population (ABS 2018). In 96% of closed treatment episodes, English was also the preferred language of clients.

Over the period from 2013–14 to 2017–18

  • The estimated number of clients aged 10 and over rose from 118,760 to 129,832, an overall increase of 9%.
  • The proportion of episodes for clients seeking treatment for their own drug use decreased from 67% to 65% among males, and increased from 33% to 35% among females.
  • The proportion of Indigenous clients receiving treatment for either their own drug use or another person’s drug use both increased (from 14% to 16% and 9% to 11%, respectively).
  • The proportion of clients seeking treatment for another persons’ drug use who were aged 10–19 decreased (from 20% to 14%).


ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2018. Migration, Australia, 2016-17. ABS cat. No. 3412.0. Canberra: ABS.