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The Alcohol & Other Drug Treatment Service Sector

A range of alcohol and other drug treatment services are provided in Australia by a mix of government, non-government and private sector providers. Table one indicates that approximately half of all treatment agencies in Australia in 2007-08 were located in the non-government sector.

Table 1 Percentage of Government and Non-government AOD treatment services in Australia

Treatment Service Sector.gif 

Sector of service refers to the public (government) and private (non-government) sectors. Agencies funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing under the Non-Government Organisation Treatment Grants Program are included in the government sector.

(a) Includes only those non-government agencies that receive public funding. (b) Integrated government and non-government services are included in the government sector.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009. Alcohol and other drug treatment services in Australia 2007-08: report on the national minimum data set. Drug treatment series no. 9. Cat. no. HSE 73. Canberra: AIHW. 

Figure 1 shows the upward trend in the number of treatment episodes delivered by the AOD treatment sector between 2001-02 and 2007-08. Overall there has been an increase of more than 27% in the number of treatment episodes in this period.

Treatment Episodes.gif

Figure 1 Number of treatment episodes in Australia 2001-02 to 2007-08

Some of the services provided within the alcohol and other drug treatment service system include:

  • Screening and assessment
  • Referral
  • Diversion to treatment from criminal justice system
  • Outreach
  • Sobering-up
  • Counselling and psychotherapy
  • Withdrawal management (inpatient and outpatient)
  • Outpatient rehabilitation
  • Residential rehabilitation/therapeutic community
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Self-help groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous).

This diverse set of services is delivered by a range of workers including:

  • Psychologists
  • Nurses
  • Medical practitioners
  • Social workers
  • Pharmacists
  • Other general AOD workers.

There are also many complementary services provided outside of the specialist alcohol and other drug treatment system to those experiencing alcohol and other drug problems. These services might address issues related to housing, education, financial disadvantage, other health conditions and comorbidity, unemployment, family and relationships, criminal justice and poverty.

NCETA Resources

Roche, A. M., O'Neill, M., Wolinski, K. (2004). Alcohol and other drugs specialist treatment services and their managers: Findings from a national survey. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 28(3):252-258

Wolinski, K., O'Neill, M., Roche, A., Freeman, T., Donald, A. (2003). Workforce issues and the treatment of alcohol and drug treatment agencies. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, Canberra. 

Other Resources 

Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services National Minimum Data Set publications can be accessed through the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. www.aihw.gov.au

Australian National Council on Drugs publications relevant to AOD treatment services:

  • ANCD Research Paper 3: Evidence Supporting Treatment
  • ANCD Research Paper 10: Mapping National Drug Treatment Capacity
  • ANCD Research Paper 14: Compulsory Treatment in Australia
  • ANCD Research Paper 17: Non-government Organisations in the Alcohol and Other Drugs Sector: Issues and Options for Sustainability

Berends, L., Devaney, M., Norman, J., Ritter, A., Swan, A., Clemens, S. and Gardiner, P. (2004). Youth Service System Review: A review of the Victorian youth drug treatment service system. Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.


Holt, M., Treloar, C., McMillan, K., Schultz, M. and Bath, N. (2007). Barriers and incentives to treatment for illicit drug users with mental health comorbidities and complex vulnerabilities. Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia.


Shand, F., Gates, J., Fawcett, J. and Mattick, R. (2003). The treatment of alcohol problems. A review of the evidence. Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia.