How has the proportion of cannabis treatment episodes in Australia changed over time compared to other drugs?

The proportion of treatment episodes in Australia for which cannabis was the principal drug of concern has remained relatively stable (between 22-25%) from 2004 to 2014. 

In Australia in 2004-05, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 37% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 23%; heroin in 17%; amphetamines in 11%; and other drugs in 11%. In Australia in 2005-06, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 39% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 25%; heroin in 14%; amphetamines in 11%; and other drugs in 12%. In Australia in 2006-07, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 43% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 23%; heroin in 11%; amphetamines in 12%; and other drugs in 12%. In Australia in 2007-08, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 45% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 22%; heroin in 11%; amphetamines in 11%; and other drugs in 12%. In Australia in 2008-09, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 46% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 23%; heroin in 10%; amphetamines in 9%; and other drugs in 12%. In Australia in 2009-10, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 48% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 23%; heroin in 10%; amphetamines in 7%; and other drugs in 12%. In Australia in 2010-11, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 48% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 22%; heroin in 9%; amphetamines in 9%; and other drugs in 11%. In Australia in 2011-12, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 46% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 22%; heroin in 9%; amphetamines in 11%; and other drugs in 12%. In Australia in 2012-13, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 41% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 24%; heroin in 8%; amphetamines in 14%; and other drugs in 12%. In Australia in 2013-14, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 40% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 24%; heroin in 7%; amphetamines in 17%; and other drugs in 12%.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). (2015). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2013-14.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding.

Principal Drug of Concern: The main substance that leads an individual to seek treatment from an alcohol and drug treatment agency (as stated by the individual).

Treatment Episode: A period of contact between a client and a treatment provider. Only ‘closed’ treatment episodes are included in the data used here. An episode is closed if there is a change in the principal drug of concern, main treatment, or service delivery setting; if the treatment ends; or if the patient is imprisoned or dies.