Who uses alcohol and other drug treatment services?

Publicly funded AOD treatment services provided treatment to over 139,000 clients across Australia in 2019–20.

In 2019–20, publicly funded AOD treatment services provided treatment to 139,295 clients across Australia. This equates to 624 clients per 100,000 people, or about 1 in 160 people in the general population. Around 93% of clients received treatment for their own drug use, with the remainder seeking support for someone else's drug use.

The following data visualisation shows:

  • the number of clients aged 10 and over that received alcohol and other drug treatment by sex, age and Indigenous status.
  • the rate of clients (per 100,000 population) that received alcohol and other drug treatment over time.

The dashboard shows the demographics of clients treated in Australia in 2019–20. An estimated 139,295 clients aged 10 and over received treatment in Australia. This equates to a rate of 624 clients per 100,000 population. Most clients were male (64% of clients), non-Indigenous (79%) and aged 20–39 (53%).

Age and sex

The median age of clients has remained stable at 35 years and nearly two-thirds (64%) of all clients were male.

The median age profile of clients has increased to 35 years in 2019–20, from 33 years in 2010–11. Over half (53%) of all clients were aged 20–39, 35% were aged 40 and over, and 11% were aged 10–19.

Consistent with previous years, nearly two-thirds (64%) of all clients were male. Of the 93% of clients who received treatment for their own drug use, 66% were male. Of the remaining 7% of clients who sought support for someone else’s drug use, around half (50%) were female in 2019–20, compared to 5% of clients in 2013–14 who were seeking support for someone else’s drug use, with over 64% of clients being female.

In 2019–20, less than half a percent (0.1%) of all clients reported a sex of ‘Other’ (95 clients), which includes clients who reported a sex of indeterminate, intersex, non-binary or unspecified. The 2018–19 collection was the first year to include ‘Other’ as a value for the client’s sex.

Cultural and linguistic diversity

In 2019–20, 17% of AOD treatment service clients aged 10 and over identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. This equates to a rate of 3,606 clients per 100,000 Indigenous Australians or about one in 28 in the general Indigenous population.

Most treatment episodes involved clients who were born in Australia (87%), with the United Kingdom (2.4%) and New Zealand (2.1%) being the most common countries of birth for people born outside Australia. These proportions are generally consistent with place of birth for the Australian population (ABS 2020). In 95% of treatment episodes, clients listed English as their preferred language.

Over the period from 2015–16 to 2019–20

  • The estimated number of clients aged 10 and over rose by 4%, from 133,895 to 139,295.
  • The proportion of male clients who received treatment for their own drug use fell from 69% to 66%, while the proportion of male clients who received support for someone else’s drug use has been increasing from 34% to 38%.
  • The proportion of Indigenous clients receiving treatment for their own drug use increased, from 14% to 17%.
  • The proportion of clients who received support for someone else’s drug use, who were aged 10–19, fell from 18% to 10%; in contrast, clients aged 20–39 increased from 24% to 40% over the same period.

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2020. Migration, Australia, 2018–19. ABS cat. No. 3412.0. Canberra: ABS.