More Australians seeking treatment for alcohol consumption than any other drug

alcohol consumptionAbout one in 200 Australians sought treatment for drug use in 2014–15, with alcohol the main drug people needed help with, a new report from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare launched on Wednesday shows.

In 2014–15, there were 114,912 people aged 10 and older who received treatment for drug use from the 843 treatment agencies across Australia that provided the institute with data. Between them, the clients received 170,367 treatment episodes over the year, with treatments within a facility lasting an average of 22 days as reported by The Guardian.

Of those clients, 38% sought treatment for alcohol. Amphetamine treatment rose from 9% to 20% between 2005–06 and 2014–15, the report also found.

“While the proportion of treatment episodes for alcohol has fallen since 2010–11 from 47% to 38%, more clients are seeking treatment for smoking and/or inhaling amphetamines,” said Tim Beard, a spokesman for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

“For alcohol and other drug treatment service clients aged 30 and over, alcohol was the most common drug, while for clients aged 10 to 29 it was cannabis.”

The top four principal drugs of concern have remained consistent over the past five years, the report found, and included alcohol, cannabis, amphetamines and nicotine. From 2011, amphetamines replaced heroin as the third most common principal drug of concern.

“The number of episodes for clients injecting and smoking or inhaling amphetamines has increased, with more than six times as many clients smoking and inhaling in 2014–15 than in 2010–11,” the report found.

The director of the National Drug Research Institute, Prof Steve Allsop, said the findings should reinforce that alcohol was a “significant public health concern”.

“In fact this report underestimates the problem, as many of those with a problem do not seek treatment, and this report only focuses on those who sought help,” he said.

“Alcohol is still one of the most common reasons why people end up in drug treatment and, if you’re a risky drinker, you’re likely to have other problems as well – not just with other drugs but with housing, mental health, or legal problems.”

It was why a coordinated model of care was essential to treating people with addictions, Allsop said.

“Responses must be cohesive and comprehensive,” he said. “There is no point giving people treatment for alcohol in one place then sending them off somewhere else for their heroin treatment and then sending them off somewhere else for other services. It is not efficient.” To read more click here.

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