Alcohol responsible for nearly half of treatment for alcohol and other drug use

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare  3 December 2010

Alcohol remains the most common drug Australians seek treatment for, making up almost half of all drug and alcohol related treatment episodes in 2008–09, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2008–09: Report on the National Minimum Data Set, presents information on publicly funded alcohol and other drug treatment services and their clients in 2008–09.

It shows that in 2008–09, there were more treatment episodes for alcohol than any other drug type, with this proportion having risen four years in a row.

Around 143,000 alcohol and other drug treatment episodes were provided in Australia in 2008-09.

‘Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the Australian community, and is also the drug for which most people sought treatment in 2008–09,’ said Amber Jefferson, Head of Institute’s Drug Surveys and Services Unit.

‘In 2008–09, 46% of all treatment episodes were for alcohol, compared with 38% in 2002–03.’

When it comes to illicit drugs, treatment for heroin use has declined and treatment for cannabis use has remained stable.

‘Treatment for heroin use has been declining over time to 10% in 2008–09, compared with 18% in 2002–03,’ Ms Jefferson said.

‘Treatment for cannabis use has remained stable at about 23%. Amphetamine treatment as a proportion of all episodes was 9% in 2008–09, compared with 11% in 2002–03.’

‘The largest group of clients were men aged 20 to 29 years—and this finding has been consistent over time,’ Ms Jefferson said.

Younger clients were more likely to receive treatment for cannabis use and older clients for alcohol use.

As with previous years, counselling was more common than any other type of treatment, and was provided in about 2 in 5 episodes.

The proportion of clients in withdrawal management (detoxification) has declined since 2002–03, even though the number of these episodes has increased overall.

The vast majority of treatment episodes (96%) were for people seeking treatment for their own drug use, as opposed to people seeking treatment for someone else’s drug use (4%).


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