Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 02 October 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report. Retrieved from https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-australia
Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 27 July 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Oct. 2]. Available from: https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-australia
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report, viewed 2 October 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-australia
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Summary information provided by states and territories, regarding the AODTS NMDS data collection:
In 2019–20, COVID–19 restrictions impacted delivery of services including withdrawal management and residential rehabilitation. Some services closed for a short period of time, and adapted service operations once they re-opened, due to limited bed capacity in accordance with social distancing guidelines. Face-to-face services were reduced and services transitioned to the use of telehealth (primarily telephone or video conference), group counselling sessions were moved online.
Increases in AOD service demand during COVID may have been due to:
Decreases in AOD services may have been affected by:
During 2020–21, large areas of NSW continued to be affected by COVID-19. The impact of COVID-19 overall, saw services in metropolitan or rural and remote areas utilise telehealth, primarily telephone.
Some treatment services such as, withdrawal management and residential rehabilitation services, were impacted due to social distancing rules and continued to have limited occupancy rates and bed capacity in both non-government and government services. These constraints meant services had to reduce the availability of treatment places. Whilst there were constraints, services continued to adopt new approaches which meant that clients were still able to receive treatment even when places were decreased.
Constraints to service delivery also had an impact on data collection including:
In 2019–20, COVID-19 restrictions impacted the main treatment types including withdrawal management (detoxification) and residential rehabilitation, as bed-based units were operating at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing guidelines were met; bed-based occupancy decreased compared to pre-COVID occupancy.
The number of treatment referrals decreased, and the number of admission cancellations increased for residential withdrawal and rehabilitation services.
The majority of AOD service providers moved to a telehealth model and discontinued face-to-face contact with clients unless the client received withdrawal or residential rehabilitation services. Due to reduced capacity for residential services, wait times between referrals and admissions increased.
In 2020–21, COVID-19 restrictions impacted withdrawal management and rehabilitation services as bed-based units were operating at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing guidelines were met. As a result:
While the number of non-residential withdrawal events increased slightly from the previous financial year, during extensive COVID-19 lockdowns:
In 2019–20, there was an overall decrease in closed treatment episodes across all treatment types for the period of March-June 2020. The treatment types of counselling and information and education decreased from March to June 2020 compared to the same period in the previous year. There was also a decrease in the reporting of diversion referrals from the justice system due to public restrictions being in place and restricted operation of the Magistrates Courts.
During the March to June 2020 period, diversion episodes (both public and private) decreased. Diversion treatment that is provided as part of police and court diversion has been steadily declining since 2015–16, but experienced a large decrease in 2019–20 due to the impact of COVID-19 and public health restrictions. Specifically, the public health restrictions substantially reduced and restricted the operation of Magistrates Courts between March 2020 and June 2020. From March to August 2020, most police and court diversion appointments were scheduled to occur by telephone, with only a few providers offering face-to-face appointments.
In 2020–21, there was an increase in the reporting of diversion referral episodes from the justice system compared to 2019–20, potentially due to the easing of public restrictions. There were also more treatment episodes provided for diversion via telephone. This included sessions that were postponed due to the public restrictions and services sought to reduce the backlog of these sessions.
As a result of COVID–19 restrictions during 2019–20, services offered more telehealth appointments and decreased bed capacity across residential services, reducing the amount of people accessing AOD services.
As a result of COVID–19 during 2020–21, services offered more telehealth appointments and also decreased bed capacity across residential services including rehabilitation and low/high medical withdrawal services reducing the amount of people accessing these services.
As a result of COVID–19 restrictions in 2019–20, AOD services offered more telehealth appointments in place of face-to-face treatment. Medically Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence prescription review periods were increased from 3 to 6 months during COVID restrictions.
In 2020–21, the impacts for treatment service delivery due to the COVID-19 included:
There was an overall reduction in the number of closed AOD treatment episodes in Tasmania, from April 2020 as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. The main treatment types of rehabilitation and counselling declined over the April to June 2020 period and face-to-face outreach services moved to providing telehealth services.
COVID-19 restrictions (lockdown) in Tasmania had eased around the start of the reporting period in mid-July 2020. In-person service delivery resumed from a telehealth model however social-distancing measures remained. This resulted in a minor reduction in capacity for some bed-based services. A small decrease in the average new referrals (episode) totals for non-residential settings was noted in July 2020, potentially due to client hesitancy to access health settings however this temporary trend reversed by August 2020.
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, non-residential face-to-face and group treatment changed to telehealth services. There was also decreased bed capacity in residential rehabilitation and withdrawal services, as well as decreased intake of new clients to residential and non-residential services.
In late March 2020, the impacts for treatment service delivery due to the COVID-19 included:
As a result of COVID-19 restrictions, there was a decrease in the number of closed treatment episodes for treatment provided in residential rehabilitation to ensure social distancing guidelines were adhered to. Outreach services increased to compensate for reduced residential services.
For the April to June 2020 period, closed episodes where main treatment type was residential rehabilitation decreased compared to the same period in the previous year.
COVID-19 safe procedures in residential rehabilitation resulted in a decrease in the number of people that could be accommodated in each facility (e.g. one person per room).
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