Has the proportion of amphetamine-related treatment episodes in Australia changed over time compared to other drugs?

The proportion of treatment episodes in Australia for which amphetamines were the principal drug of concern decreased between 2007-08 and 2009-10 (from 11% to 7%), but subsequently increased to 26% in 2016-17. Nationally, alcohol has been the most common principal drug of concern since 2007-08, followed by cannabis until 2015-16, after which amphetamines become the second most common principal drug of concern in Australia.

In Australia in 2007-08, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 44% 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 47% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 22%; heroin in 9%; amphetamines in 9%; and other drugs in 13%. 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 13%. 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%. In Australia in 2014-15, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 38% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 24%; heroin in 6%; amphetamines in 20%; and other drugs in 12%. In Australia in 2015-16, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 32% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 23%; heroin in 6%; amphetamines in 23%; and other drugs in 17%. In Australia in 2016-17, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 32% of treatment episodes; cannabis in 22%; heroin in 5%; amphetamines in 26%; and other drugs in 15%.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2018).  Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2016-17.

† Amphetamines are Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulants that increase neurotransmitter activity. Methamphetamine is a more potent form of amphetamine. The National Minimum Data Set does not provide data on methamphetamine use alone. Instead, treatment episodes due to methamphetamine use are subsumed within ‘amphetamines’. This category includes amphetamine, dexamphetamine, and methamphetamine.

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.