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. This report presents information for 2017–18 about publicly funded AOD treatment service agencies, the people they treat and the treatment provided.

Around 130,000 clients sought AOD treatment in 2017–18

In 2017–18:

  • around 130,000 clients aged 10 and over (a rate of 601 clients per 100,000 people) received treatment, a 9% rise since 2013–14 (119,000)
  • around two-thirds of clients were male (66%), and just over half were aged 20–39 (54%)
  • 1 in 6 (16%) clients aged 10 and over, identified as Indigenous Australians representing a rate of 3,597 clients per 100,000, compared with 495 clients per 100,000 non-Indigenous Australians
  • treatment agencies provided about 208,900 closed treatment episodes—an average of 1.6 episodes per client
  • around 4 in 5 (80%) episodes ended within 3 months
  • less than 1% (2,838) of clients received treatment in every collection year from 2013–14.

In over 2 in 5 treatment episodes, clients reported more than 1 drug of concern: usually nicotine or cannabis

Alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and heroin have remained the most common principal drugs of concern for clients since 2008–09.

In 2017–18:

  • alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern, accounting for 35% of episodes, followed by amphetamines 27%, cannabis 22% and heroin 6%
  • for clients aged 30 and over, alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern, while for clients aged 10–29, cannabis was the most common
  • heroin as a principal drug of concern was most common among clients aged 30–49
  • in over 2 in 5 (41%) treatment episodes, the client also reported additional drugs of concern—nicotine and cannabis were the most common.

Treatment episodes for amphetamines rose by over 300% over 10 years

Over the 10-year period to 2017–18:

  • the proportion of episodes where alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern decreased from 46% in 2008–09 to 35%
  • the number of heroin treatment episodes fell by 22% (from 14,222 to 11,071 treatment episodes)
  • where amphetamines were the principal drug of concern, the number of episodes for the clients method of drug use for injecting, smoking or inhaling increased almost 5-fold from 10,400 episodes in 2008–09 to 48,000 episodes in 2017–18.

Counselling continues to be the most common type of treatment

  • Since 2008–09, the proportion of episodes for each main treatment type has remained stable, with counselling, support and case management and withdrawal management being the most common types of treatment. Counselling continues to be the most common main treatment type provided for all clients (ranging from 37% to 43% since 2008–09).

Independent residential accommodation was the most common accommodation for clients prior to the start of the service episode

  • In 2017–18, data with valid response rates (over 90%) for usual accommodation type for the client prior to AOD service were reported by New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory. Data are presented for these jurisdictions only.