Treatment

This section contains information on the provision of medical/psychological treatment for alcohol use. It covers how many Australians seek professional treatment for alcohol-related problems, who is most likely to do so, and changes in these patterns over time.

The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Dataset 2019-20 (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021) is the source of data used in this section. It is the only Australian data source which provides a synthesis of state and territory data on publicly funded alcohol-related treatment.

What proportion of alcohol and drug treatment episodes in Australia are alcohol-related?

In 2019-20, alcohol was the principal drug of concern in 34% of all alcohol and other drug treatment episodes in Australia. Treatment was sought more often for alcohol than for any other drug.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and WElfare (AIHW). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2019-20.

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.

How has the number and proportion of alcohol-related treatment episodes in Australia changed over time?

Over the ten year period 2010 - 2020 in Australia, the proportion of treatment episodes in which alcohol was the principal drug of concern peaked at 47% in 2010-11, and then declined to 34% by 2019-20.

The number of treatment episodes in which alcohol was the principal drug of concern varied from 61,504 in 2014-15 to 75,005 in 2019-20.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2019-20.

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.

Are men or women in Australia more likely to receive treatment for alcohol use?

Australian men are more likely to receive treatment for alcohol use than Australian women. In 2019-20, men accounted for 63% of all alcohol-related treatment episodes and women accounted for 36%.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2019-20.

Please note: Percentages may not tally to 100% due to rounding and the exclusion of individuals who recorded their gender as ‘other’ or did not state their gender.

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.

Are younger or older Australians more likely to receive treatment for alcohol use?

Australians aged 40-49 are the age group most likely to receive treatment for alcohol use, accounting for 28% of all alcohol-related treatment episodes. Young (10-19 years) Australians are least likely to receive treatment for alcohol use.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2019-20.

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.