Treatment

This section contains information about the provision of medical/psychological treatment for pharmaceutical drug use. It covers episodes of professional treatment for pharmaceutical drug-related problems, those most likely to seek help, and changes over time.

The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set 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 drug treatment.

To ensure consistency with the source data, this section of the NADK includes the following pharmaceutical drugs:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Oxycodone.

What proportion of alcohol and drug treatment episodes in Australia are related to pharmaceutical drugs?

Pharmaceutical drugs are the principal drug of concern in 3% of all alcohol and other drug treatment episodes in Australia. Benzodiazepines account for the largest proportion of these pharmaceutical drug-related treatment episodes (40%).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2019-2020.

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

† This FAQ uses data from the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Dataset, which defines the pharmaceutical drugs referred to in this question as: benzodiazepines, codeine, morphine, buprenorphine, oxycodone, and methadone.

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 pharmaceutical drug-related treatment episodes in Australia changed over time?

The proportion of treatment episodes in Australia for which pharmaceutical drugs were the principal drug of concern has halved overtime from 6% in 2010-11 to 3% in 2019-20.

The number of treatment episodes for pharmaceutical drug use have also decreased from 8,361 to 6,805 during this time.

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

† This FAQ uses data from the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Dataset, which defines the pharmaceutical drugs referred to in this question as: benzodiazepines, codeine, morphine, buprenorphine, oxycodone, and methadone.

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 pharmaceutical drug use?

Australian men account for a larger proportion of treatment episodes for pharmaceutical drug use than women (63% vs 37%, respectively).

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

† This FAQ uses data from the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Dataset, which defines the pharmaceutical drugs referred to in this question as: benzodiazepines, codeine, morphine, buprenorphine, oxycodone, and methadone.

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 pharmaceutical drug use?

Australians aged 30-39 years are more likely to receive treatment for pharmaceutical drug use than other age groups.

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

† This FAQ uses data from the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Dataset, which defines the pharmaceutical drugs referred to in this question as: benzodiazepines, codeine, morphine, buprenorphine, oxycodone, and methadone.

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.