Alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services across Australia provide a broad range of treatment services and support to people using drugs, and to their families and friends. These key findings present high-level information for 2017–18 about publicly funded AOD treatment service agencies, the people they treat, and the treatment provided.

Many types of treatment are available in Australia to assist people with problematic drug use. Most aim to reduce the harm of drug use, for example counselling, information and education, and diversion programs, while some use a structured drug-free setting with abstinence-oriented interventions to help prevent relapse and develop skills and attitudes that assist clients to make changes leading to drug-free lifestyles.

Box 1.1: Key facts

In 2017–18:

  • 952 publicly funded AOD treatment agencies provided 208,935 treatment episodes to 129,832 clients aged 10 or over. This equates to 601 clients and 967 episodes per 100,000 people
  • nationally, clients received an average of 1.6 treatment episodes for their own drug use
  • across all jurisdictions, the number of agencies ranged from 16 in the Australian Capital Territory to 390 in New South Wales
  • the most common principal drugs of concern that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (35% of all treatment episodes), amphetamines (27%), cannabis (22%) and heroin (6%)
  • nationally, counselling was the most common treatment type (39%).

Over the period from 2013–14 to 2017–18:

  • the number of publicly funded agencies providing data about services for clients seeking treatment and support rose from 796 to 952
  • nationally, the 4 most common principal drugs of concern remained consistent, with amphetamines increasing as a proportion of closed treatment episodes, from 17% to 27%
  • the proportion of closed episodes where alcohol was the principal drug of concern decreased from 40% to 35%
  • nationally, counselling remained the most common main treatment type, followed by assessment only
  • the proportion of episodes with counselling as the main treatment type for the principal drug of concern of alcohol fell from 45% to 40%
  • the median duration of heroin treatment episodes decreased from 29 days to 18 days, the largest change in treatment duration compared with alcohol, cannabis and amphetamines.  


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