Key findings

Key terminology 


Agencies included in the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS) are all publicly funded (at state, territory or Australian Government level) government and non-government agencies that provide one or more specialist alcohol and other drug treatment services, whether residential or non-residential. Acute care hospitals or psychiatric hospitals are also included if they have specialist alcohol and other drug units that provide treatment to non-admitted patients (for example, outpatient services), as are Indigenous or mental health services if they provide specialist alcohol and other drug treatment.


An individual who is assessed and/or accepted for treatment for their own or someone else’s alcohol or other drug problem from an in-scope agency and who is aged 10 or older at the start of the treatment episode.

Closed treatment episode

A treatment episode is the period of contact between a client and a treatment provider where there are defined start (commencement) and end (cessation) dates. A treatment episode is considered closed where any of the following occurs: treatment is completed or has ceased; there has been no contact between the client and treatment provider for 3 months; or there is a change in the main treatment type, principal drug of concern or delivery setting.

Treatment episodes are excluded from the AODTS NMDS if they: are not closed in the relevant financial year; are for clients who are receiving pharmacotherapy and not receiving any other form of treatment that falls within the scope of the collection; include only activities relating to needle and syringe exchange; or are for a client aged under 10 years.

Main treatment type

Treatment type refers to the type of activity used to treat the client’s alcohol or other drug problem. Main treatment type is the principal activity that is determined at assessment by the treatment provider to be necessary for the completion of the treatment plan for the client’s alcohol or other drug problem for their principal drug of concern. One main treatment type is reported for each treatment episode.

Assessment only, support and case management only, and information and education only can only be reported as main treatment types. The AODTS NMDS also collects data on a client's other treatment types; however, this variable is not included in these data visualisations.

Principal drug of concern

Principal drug of concern is the main drug that the client stated led them to seek treatment from the AOD treatment agency. In this report, only clients seeking treatment for their own drug use are included in analyses of principal drug of concern. It is assumed that only substance users themselves can accurately report principal drug of concern; therefore, these data are not collected from those who seek support for someone else’s drug use. The AODTS NMDS also collects data on a client's additional drugs of concern, but this variable is not included in these data visualisations.

Reason for cessation

The reasons for a client ceasing to receive a treatment episode from an alcohol and other drug treatment service include:

  • expected/planned completion: episodes where the treatment was completed, or where the client ceased to participate at expiation or by mutual agreement
  • ended due to unplanned completion: episodes where the client ceased to participate against advice, without notice or due to non-compliance
  • referred to another service/change in treatment mode: episodes that ended due to a change in main treatment type, delivery setting or principal drug of concern, or where the client was transferred to another service provider
  • other: episodes that ended due to the client returning to court or jail due to non-compliance with a drug court program or sanctioned by court diversion service, imprisoned (other than drug court sanctioned), died, or reasons not elsewhere classified.  

Source of referral

The source from which the client was transferred or referred to alcohol and other drug treatment service.

Treatment delivery setting

The main physical setting in which the type of treatment that is the principal focus of a client's alcohol and other drug treatment episode is actually delivered to a client (irrespective of whether or not this is the same as the usual location of the service provider).


The number of agencies is not an accurate reflection of all in-scope AOD specialist treatment services in Australia, as some agencies fail to report data during a collection for various reasons. See the Alcohol and other drug treatment services NMDS, 2018–19 data quality statement for details.

In 2018–19, the AOD treatment agency counting methodology was revised to better reflect the number of unique AOD treatment service outlets. There is a level of agency duplication, due to agencies splitting out episode data that is related to the funding source for that program/service. Some agencies chose to split their data according to the funding source such as, state funded service episodes are reported to the relevant state or territory department and the Commonwealth funded service episodes are separated and reported to a peak body or directly to the AIHW, this has resulted in some services being counted as two separate agencies over time. The revision was applied to all time-series, with AOD service counts from 2014–15 to 2017–18 affected.

Client demographics

Data is based on client records with a valid Statistical Linkage Key (SLK-581).

Client data exists from the 2013–14 collection onwards.

The client data used in these visualisations is not imputed. Therefore, these numbers may differ from what has been previously published.

Rates are crude rates based on the Australian estimated resident population as at 31 December of the reference year. Rates for previous years may differ to previously reported due to updated estimated resident populations.

Proportions are calculated based on overlapping unit record data sorted by state/territory. As clients can receive treatment in multiple states/territories within the same collection period, the number of clients for Australia is less than the summed number of clients for each state/territory. Therefore, the proportions by each state/territory may differ from those reported elsewhere as they are calculated from the summed number of clients for each state/territory.

Main treatment type

Rehabilitation, withdrawal management (detoxification), and pharmacotherapy are not available for clients seeking treatment for someone else’s alcohol or other drug use.

The main treatment type of ‘other’ includes pharmacotherapy.

South Australia reports a high proportion of Assessment only treatment episodes due to legislated client assessments under the state’s Police Drug Diversion Initiative and child protection programs.

Principal drug of concern

The AODTS NMDS contains data on drugs of concern that are coded using the ABS’s Australian Standard Classification of Drugs of Concern (ASCDC) (ABS 2011). Pharmaceuticals were grouped using the following 10 drug categories and ASCDC codes:

Drug category

ASCDC code





Buprenorphine 1201
Oxycodone 1203
Methadone 1305
Benzodiazepines 2400–2499
Steroids 4000–4999
Other opioids 1100, 1199, 1200, 1299, 1300–1304, 1306–1399
Other analgesics 0005, 1000, 1400–1499
Other sedatives and hypnotics 2000, 2200–2299, 2300–2399, 2500–2599, 2900–2999

Jurisdictional notes regarding principal drug of concern

South Australia reports a high proportion of treatment episodes where amphetamines are the principal drug of concern due to the SA Police Drug Diversion Initiative (PDDI). In addition, adult cannabis offences are not included in the PDDI due to the SA Cannabis Expiation Notice legislation.

Victoria reported relatively high incidences of ‘All other drugs’ due to service provider reporting practices and limitations with the data reporting system. This system was replaced in 2018–19.

In Queensland, the level of cannabis reported as the principal drug of concern is a result of the police and illicit drug court diversion programs operating in the state.

General notes

Data are subject to minor revisions over time.

Components of tables may not sum to totals due to rounding.


ABS 2011. Australian Standard Classification of Drugs of Concern, 2011. ABS cat. No. 1248.0. Canberra: ABS.