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Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia 

The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a major cause of preventable disease and illness in Australia. This report consolidates the most recently available information on alcohol, tobacco and other drug use in Australia, and includes key trends in the availability, consumption, harms and treatment for vulnerable populations. Further, information on a range of health, social and economic impacts of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use are highlighted.

COVID-19
This release includes discussion and data from the COVID-19 time period.

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2018–19: key findings 

In 2018–19, 1,283 publicly funded alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services provided just under 220,000 treatment episodes to an estimated 137,000 clients. The four most common drugs that led clients to seek treatment for their own drug use were alcohol (36% of all treatment episodes), amphetamines (28%), cannabis (20%) and heroin (5%). Almost two-thirds (64%) of all clients receiving treatment were male, and the median age of clients was 34 years.

To learn more, see Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia, 2018–19.

COVID-19
This release covers data up to 30 June 2019, preceding COVID-19

Patterns of alcohol and other drug treatment service use in Australia, 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2018 

Clients accessing alcohol and other drug treatment services across Australia commonly have multiple episodes of treatment spanning several years. This report categorises 3 client groups based on their patterns of service use between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2018. While there were subtle differences in principal drug of concern and some aspects of service use between the 3 groups, overall there were many similarities. This highlights the complexities of characterising alcohol and other drug service users.

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2017–18: key findings 

In 2017–18, 952 publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment services provided just under 210,000 treatment episodes to an estimated 130,000 clients. The four most common drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (35% of all treatment episodes), amphetamines (27%), cannabis (22%) and heroin (6%). Two-thirds (66%) of all clients receiving treatment were male and the median age of clients was 34 years.

Pharmacotherapy in Australia 

Pharmacotherapy is one of the main treatment options for dependence on opioid drugs. The interactive data visualisations presented in this report display the latest available pharmacotherapy information from the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set and the National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data Collection. This web report supplements the Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2017–18 report.

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2017–18 

In 2017–18, 952 publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment services provided just under 210,000 treatment episodes to an estimated 130,000 clients. The four most common drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (35% of all treatment episodes), amphetamines (27%), cannabis (22%) and heroin (6%). Two-thirds (66%) of all clients receiving treatment were male and the median age of clients was 34.

Related AODTS 2017–18 reports include:

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia: Primary Health Network (PHN) analysis 

The following set of data visualisations present information at the Primary Health Network (PHN) level, based on data reported during the 2017–18 AODTS NMDS collection cycle, as well as selected trend analysis incorporating data from the 4 previous collection cycles. While PHNs were established on 1 July 2015, data collected since 2013–14 is presented to show the trends within each PHN prior to the establishment of the boundaries.

The data presented is from all publicly funded AOD treatment services (which includes PHN-commissioned services) that have reported to the AODTS NMDS.

Australia as a whole comprises 31 individual PHNs. Some states/territories consist of single PHNs, while others are made up of multiple PHNs.

This web report supplements the Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2017–18 report.

Alcohol and other drug use in regional and remote Australia: consumption, harms and access to treatment 2016–17 

This report identifies trends and differences in alcohol and other drug use, harms and treatment in Major cities and Regional and remote Australia. The consumption of alcohol at levels placing people at risk of alcohol-related harm was higher for clients in Regional and remote Australia compared with those in Major cities. While the consumption of illicit drugs was similar for clients in Major cities and Regional and remote areas, the type of illicit drug used varied. Clients in Regional and remote areas were more likely than those in Major cities to travel 1 hour or longer to access services.  

Specialist homelessness services: drug and alcohol related issues 

The Specialist Homelessness Services Collection (SHSC) describes all clients who receive services from specialist homelessness agencies and the assistance they receive, including clients with an alcohol and other drug issue.

In 2016–17, there were almost 241,000 SHS clients aged 10 years or over, and of these 11% (27,295) were clients with a current alcohol and other drug issue.

This proportion has remained relatively stable since the SHSC commenced in 2011–12.

Drug related hospitalisations 

Information on hospitalisations is taken from the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD).

In 2016-17 there were about 11.0 million separations (episodes of admitted patient care) in Australia’s public and private hospitals.

137,000 hospital separations with a drug-related principal diagnosis were reported in 2016–17, representing 1.2% of all hospital separations, and Alcohol accounted for 51% of all drug-related hospital separations.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: alcohol and other drug treatment services 

Information on the majority of Australian Government-funded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander substance use services are available from the Online Services Report (OSR) data collection.

The most common substance-use issues reported by organisations providing substance-use services that reported to the OSR in 2016–17, in terms of staff time and organisational resources, were alcohol, cannabis and amphetamines.

In 2016–17, all of the 80 organisations reported alcohol as one of the most common substance-use issues and almost all (95%) reported cannabis.

Organisations reporting amphetamines as a common substance-use issue increased from 70% in 2014–15 to 79% in 2015–16, and slightly increased again to 80% in 2016–17.

Overlap between youth justice supervision and alcohol and other drug treatment services: 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2016 

This report examines the overlap between alcohol and other drug treatment services and youth justice supervision from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2016. Compared with the age-equivalent Australian population, those who had youth justice supervision were 30 times as likely to have an alcohol and other drug treatment service, and those who received an alcohol and other drug treatment service were 30 times as likely to have youth justice supervision.

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2016–17 

In 2016–17, 836 publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment services provided just over 200,000 treatment episodes to an estimated 127,000 clients.
The top four drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (32% of all treatment episodes), amphetamines (26%), cannabis (22%) and heroin (5%). The proportion of closed treatment episodes where clients were receiving treatment for amphetamines has more than doubled over the last 10 years, from 11% of treatment episodes in 2007–08 to 27% in 2016–17. Two-thirds (66%) of all clients receiving treatment in 2016–17 were male and the median age of clients remains at 33 years.

Related AODTS 2016–17 reports include:

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2016–17: key findings 

In 2016–17, 836 publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment services provided just over 200,000 treatment episodes to an estimated 127,000 clients.

The top four drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (32% of all treatment episodes), amphetamines (26%), cannabis (22%) and heroin (5%). The proportion of closed treatment episodes where clients were receiving treatment for amphetamines has more than doubled over the last 10 years, from 11% of treatment episodes in 2007–08 to 27% in 2016–17. Two-thirds (66%) of all clients receiving treatment in 2016–17 were male and the median age of clients remains at 33 years.

AODTS 2016–17 data visualisations 

In 2016–17, 836 publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment services provided just over 200,000 treatment episodes to an estimated 127,000 clients.

The top four drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (32% of all treatment episodes), amphetamines (26%), cannabis (22%) and heroin (5%). The proportion of closed treatment episodes where clients were receiving treatment for amphetamines has more than doubled over the last 10 years, from 11% of treatment episodes in 2007–08 to 27% in 2016–17. Two-thirds (66%) of all clients receiving treatment in 2016–17 were male and the median age of clients remains at 33 years.

Data visualisations of the Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2016–17: key findings and the associated data cubes (for more detailed data presented in tabular form).

National opioid pharmacotherapy statistics (NOPSAD) 2017 

On a snapshot day in 2017, almost 50,000 clients received pharmacotherapy treatment for their opioid dependence at 2,732 dosing points around Australia.

As in previous years, methadone was the most common pharmacotherapy drug, with around two-thirds (60%) of clients treated with this drug.

There were 3,074 prescribers of opioid pharmacotherapy drugs, an increase of 3% from 2016.

National opioid pharmacotherapy statistics (NOPSAD) 2016 

On a snapshot day in 2016, almost 34,000 clients across 6 jurisdictions received pharmacotherapy treatment for their opioid dependence at 2,011 dosing points. There were 1,472 authorised prescribers of opioid pharmacotherapy drugs.

Data for Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory were unavailable at the time of the initial release on 29 March 2017. Additional supplementary tables were added on 14 November 2017 to include data for these jurisdictions as well as updated Australian totals.

Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2015–16 

In 2015–16, about 796 alcohol and other drug treatment services provided just over 206,600 treatment episodes to an estimated 134,000 clients. The top 4 drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (32% of treatment episodes), cannabis (23%), amphetamines (23%), and heroin (6%). The proportion of episodes where clients were receiving treatment for amphetamines has continued to rise over the 5 years to 2015–16, from 12% of treatment episodes in 2011–12 to 23% in 2015–16. The median age of clients in AOD treatment services is rising, from 31 in 2006–07 to 33 in 2015–16.