Alcohol accounts for almost half of drug treatment episodes

Nearly half of government-funded drug treatment episodes in 2010-11 were for alcohol use, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2010-11: report on the National Minimum Data Set shows that alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 47% of treatment episodes, and in 62% of all treatment episodes it was listed as a drug of concern.

'The number of treatment episodes for alcohol use has remained relatively stable since 2009-10 when it was 48%, however it is still more than in 2001-02, when it was 37%,' said AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey.

Alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern in all states and territories except Tasmania, where cannabis was equally common (39%).

'After alcohol, cannabis was the most common principal drug of concern at 22%, followed by amphetamines and heroin both at 9%,' said Mr Harvey.

'In recent years, there has been a steady decline in heroin as a principal drug of concern in treatment episodes, down from 18% in 2003-04.'

In 2010-11 over 150,000 alcohol and other drug treatment episodes were recorded across Australia, almost 5,000 more than the previous year. More males than females received treatment, with around two-thirds (67%) of treatment episodes being for male clients.

Almost all episodes (96%) were for clients receiving treatment services for their own drug use rather than for someone else's.

When compared with their proportion in the general population aged 10 and older (2%), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were over-represented in drug and alcohol treatment episodes, with 13% of episodes involving clients who identified as Indigenous. Treatment episodes for Indigenous Australians were more likely to have alcohol as a principal drug of concern (52%) than episodes for non-Indigenous Australians (46%).

Indigenous clients tended to be younger than non-Indigenous clients- in 51% of episodes for Indigenous clients they were aged under 30 compared to 38% for non-Indigenous clients.

Counselling was the most common main treatment type nationally (41%) followed by withdrawal management (16%) and 'assessment only' (14%).

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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