Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2021) Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 29 May 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). 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, 16 July 2021, 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, 2021 [cited 2022 May. 29]. 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) 2021, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia annual report, viewed 29 May 2022, https://pp.aihw.gov.au/reports/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services/alcohol-other-drug-treatment-services-australia
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In 2019–20, cannabis was reported as a drug of concern in one-third (33%) of all closed treatment episodes, either as a principal or additional drug of concern:
Cannabis use and harm
Cannabis (also called marijuana or gunja) is derived from the cannabis plant (usually Cannabis sativa) and is used in whole plant (typically the flowering heads), resin or oil forms. Cannabis has a range of stimulant, depressant and hallucinogenic effects. The risks associated with long‑term or regular use of cannabis include dependence, damage to lungs and lung functioning, effects on memory and learning, and psychosis and other mental health conditions. Cannabis withdrawal is now listed as a discrete syndrome in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (NCPIC 2011).
According to the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (AIHW 2020), more than 1 in 3 (36%) Australians aged 14 and over had used cannabis in their lifetime and 11.6% had used it in the previous 12 months. Both lifetime and recent use increased between 2007 and 2019 (AIHW 2020).
Diversion treatment programs
Among diversion clients, diversion episodes are most likely to be for cannabis, followed by amphetamines, alcohol, and heroin (Figure CANNABIS3). Throughout Australia, there are programs that divert people who were apprehended or sentenced for a minor drug offence from the criminal justice system. Many of these diversions result in people receiving drug treatment services. Services vary widely, ranging from short-term assessment, information or education sessions to longer term treatments such as counselling and withdrawal management, which are supported by Australian Government funding and a national framework. Diversion programs in the states and territories have led to the development of systematic approaches to diversion. Some states and territories have also incorporated their own additional drug diversion programs that have different priorities and target groups, including cannabis expiation notice schemes, youth programs and alcohol-related offenders, which have changed over time due to legislative, regulatory and policy frameworks related to drugs and drug use.
In 2019–20, 27,701 clients received treatment where cannabis was the principal drug of concern, two-thirds (66%) of clients were male and nearly 1 in 5 (19%) were Indigenous Australians (tables SC.6–SC.8, SCR.26).
For clients whose principal drug of concern was cannabis:
The butterfly bar chart shows shows clients with cannabis as their principal drug of concern were most likely to be aged 10–29. This pattern was similar for both male (68%) and female (67%) clients.
Since 2010–11, counselling has remained the most common form of treatment, accounting for around 40% (15,801 episodes in 2019–20) of cannabis treatment episodes annually. In 2019–20, both support and case management (6,599 episodes), and information and education (6,393 episodes) were the second most common main treatment types (both 16%) after counselling (Figure CANNABIS2; Table SD.42).
In 2019–20, for treatment episodes where cannabis was the principal drug of concern:
The line graph shows that where cannabis was the principal drug of concern, counselling was the most common main treatment type, fluctuating from 39% in 2010–11 to 44% in 2011–12 and 39% in 2019–20. Information and education was the second most common main treatment type most years, ranging from 15% to 24%. In 2019–20 support and case management and information and education were the second most common treatment types (both 16%) followed by assessment only (15%) and withdrawal management (6.7%).
The grouped horizontal bar graph shows the proportion of episodes provided for alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and heroin as the principal drug of concern for clients with diversion episodes, those with non-diversion episodes provided to diversion clients, and those with non-diversion episodes provided to non-diversion clients. For diversion episodes, cannabis was the most common principal drug (54%), followed by amphetamines (15%), alcohol (11%), and heroin (0.4%). For non-diversion episodes provided to diversion clients, amphetamines were the most common principal drug (39%), followed by cannabis (21%), alcohol (16%), and heroin (4.6%). For non-diversion episodes provided to non-diversion clients, alcohol was the most common principal drug (37%), followed by amphetamines (29%), cannabis (16%), and heroin (6%).
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