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Alcohol and other drug treatment services assist people to address their drug use through a range of treatments. Treatment objectives can include reduction or cessation of drug use as well as improvements to social and personal functioning. Assistance may also be provided to support the family and friends of people using drugs.

Following are highlights from the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS).

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Key findings in 2014–15

Download—AODTS 2014–15 infographic

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  • A total of 843 publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies provided services to clients seeking treatment and support for alcohol and other drug problems, an increase of 27% over the 5-year period to 2014–15. 

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  • Around 115,000 clients received just over 170,000 treatment episodes from alcohol and other drug treatment agencies. 
  • 2 in 3 clients were male (67%), just over half were aged 20–39 (54%), and 1 in 7 clients were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (15%).
  • The alcohol and other drug client group is an ageing cohort, with a median age of 33 years in 2014–15, up from 31 in 2005–06. Since 2005–06 there has been a decline in the proportion of 20–29 year olds being treated (from 33% to 27% of treatment episodes), while the proportion of those aged 40 and over rose from 26% to 32%.
  • The proportion of episodes where clients were receiving treatment for amphetamines (20%) has continued to increase over the last 10 years, from 11% of treatment episodes in 2005–06, and 17% in 2013–14.

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  • There was an increase in the number of closed treatment episodes between 2005–06 and 2014–15, from 151,362 to 170,367—a 13% increase over the 10-year period.
  • In 2014–15, the top 4 principal drugs that led clients to seek treatment were alcohol (38% of treatment episodes), cannabis (24%), amphetamines (20%) and heroin (6%).
  • Treatment for the use of amphetamines increased over the 5 years to 2014–15 (from 9% of closed treatment episodes to 20%).
  • Over the 10 years since 2005–06, treatment types received by clients have not changed substantially, with counselling, assessment only and withdrawal management being the most common types of treatment—this was the same for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous clients.


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Data sources


The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS NMDS) is the primary source used in this analysis. It provides information on the treatment provided by publicly-funded alcohol and other drug treatment agencies in Australia. These services are available to people seeking treatment for their own drug use and people seeking treatment for someone else's drug use. Data are available from 2003–04 onwards.

In the AODTS NMDS, the main counting unit is a closed treatment episode, which is defined as a period of contact between a client and a treatment provider (or team of providers) that is closed when treatment is completed or has ceased, or there has been no further contact between the client and the treatment provider for 3 months. Since 2012–13, a statistical linkage key (SLK) has been collected which means the number of clients receiving treatment can now be estimated.

Other data sources

A number of other data sources include information not available in the AODTS NMDS. Using these additional data sets supports more comprehensive reporting of alcohol and other drug treatment in Australia. These include the National Opioid Pharmacotherapy Statistics Annual Data Collection, the National Hospital Morbidity Database, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health organisations: Online Services Report Database, the Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) Collection and the National Prisoner Health Data Collection (NPHDC).

In 2013–14:

  • of the 1% of hospital separations with a drug-related principal diagnosis, alcohol accounted for 55% of separations;
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health-care services reporting to the Online Services Report Database reported both alcohol and cannabis in their top 5 most common substance-use issues;

In 2014–15

  • 11% of Specialist Homelessness Services (SHS) clients aged 10 years or over had a current alcohol and other drug issue.

In 2015, of the 1,011 prison entrants in the NPHDC two-thirds (67%) reported using illicit drugs in the previous 12 months—1 in 2 (50%) reported using methamphetamines, and 2 in 5 (41%) cannabis.

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