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1 in 200 Australians seek treatment for alcohol and other drugs

21 June, 2016

About 1 in 200 people in Australia sought treatment for alcohol and other drug use in 2014–15, with just over half of those (54%) reporting more than one drug of concern, according to a report released by the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare (AIHW).

New data in the report Alcohol and other drugs treatment services in Australia, 2014–15, show that about 115,000 clients received more than 170,000 treatment episodes over the year from 843 agencies across Australia. While alcohol (38%) continued to be the main drug clients sought treatment for, amphetamine treatment doubled from 9% to 20% between 2010–11 and 2014–15.

'Over the last decade, alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and heroin continued to be the most common principal drugs of concern in Australia,' said AIHW spokesperson Tim Beard.

'For alcohol and other drug treatment service clients aged 30 and over, alcohol was the most common drug, while for clients aged 10–29 it was cannabis.'

Over the past 10 years, the percentage of younger clients (aged 20–29) being treated fell from 33% to 27%, while those aged 40 and over rose from 26% to 32%.

'While the proportion of treatment episodes for alcohol has fallen since 2010–11 from 47% to 38%, more clients are seeking treatment for smoking and/or inhaling amphetamines,' Beard said.

Just under two-thirds (64%) of clients reported additional substance use when amphetamine was the principal drug of concern.

Most (70%) treatment episodes were provided in Major cities, while 26%  were provided  in Inner and Outer regional areas, and 4% were provided in Remote (3%) or Very remote (1%) areas.

The majority (87%) of clients were born in Australia. Over two-thirds (67%) were male and over half (54%) were aged 20–39. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians were overrepresented among clients. Despite only comprising 2.7% of the population, 1 in 7 (15%) clients were Indigenous.

Nationally, 26% of clients were diverted from the criminal justice system into alcohol and other drug treatment programs.

The majority of clients received treatment in a non-residential facility, such as a community health centre. The most common types of treatment included counselling, assessment and withdrawal management, with counselling accounting for 2 in 5 treatment episodes.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

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