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 2016-17 Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set (AODTS) (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018) 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 specialist treatment for psychoactive drug use. Data from individuals aged 10 years and over is included.

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 4% of all alcohol and other drug treatment episodes in Australia. Benzodiazepines account for the largest proportion of these pharmaceutical drug-related treatment episodes (25%).

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2016-17 (NCETA secondary analysis, 2019).

† 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.

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

The proportion of treatment episodes in Australia for which pharmaceutical drugs were the principal drug of concern remained relatively stable at around 4-6% between 2007-08 and 2016-17.

By contrast, treatment episodes where amphetamines were the principal drug of concern increased during this time period (from 11% to 26%), while heroin-related treatment episodes decreased (from 11% to 5%). Alcohol-related treatment episodes increased from 44% in 2007-08 to 48% in 2009-10, then decreased to 32% in 2016-17. Cannabis-related treatment episodes remained relatively stable at around 22-24%.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2016-17 (NCETA secondary analysis, 2019).

† 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 (57%) are more likely to receive treatment for pharmaceutical drug use than women (43%).

In comparison, men account for approximately 63-68% of treatment episodes for alcohol, cannabis, and methamphetamine.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2016-17 (NCETA secondary analysis, 2019).

† 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.

In comparison, 40-49 year olds are the most likely to receive treatment for alcohol use, whilst 20-29 years olds are the most likely to receive treatment for cannabis and methamphetamine.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia 2016-17 (NCETA secondary analysis, 2019).

† 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.