ALCOHOL is the primary reason people are seeking out publicly-funded drug treatment services, a new national report shows.
Dangerous drinking was the key concern for almost two in five Australians who sought one-off treatment periods or continual treatment throughout the past four years, according to an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released on Friday. Alcohol also accounted for one-third of Australians seeking episodic treatment.
This comes after Ballarat Community Health alcohol and other drugs manager Suzanne Powell told The Courier last month Alcohol remained the most prominant substance from which people seek help in her organisation's services.
BCH alcohol and other drugs clients range from 12 years old to those in their 80s across all socioeconomic backgrounds in a community-wide issue that Ms Powell said was often progressive and did not discriminate - as did any substance.
Her comments were in response to national warnings females were fast closing the gap on men in drinking rates, helped by alcohol advertising infiltrating the women's empowerment movement.
"Australian culture plays a huge role in drinking. It's legal but also acceptable and, to a point, almost expected," Ms Powell said.
"We celebrate with alcohol, we commiserate with alcohol...We really need strong intention to work hard to shift that in culture."
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While party drug use was a key focus of concern in the inaugural Spilt Milk music festival in Ballarat at the weekend, Ballarat Police Inspector Dan Davison said police were kept busy minimising alcohol-fuelled harm. Several fights broke out, two people were arrested for public drunkenness and five people were evicted for behavioural offences.
Patterns of alcohol and other drug treatment service use looked at the use of almost 81,000 Australians who received a closed treatment - a defined period where the series of treatment is complete or otherwise ceased. The study followed those who had a closed treatment in 2014/15 for the next four years.
Amphetamines, cannabis and heroin were the next most common concern from clients who sought treatment.
The highest proportion of treatment sessions where cannabis was the main drug of concern (28 per cent) was in inner regional areas.
Across the study, 68 per cent of those with closed treatment were male and most commonly (29 per cent) aged 20-29.
AIHW spokesperson Moira Hewitt said the report aimed to better assist in tailoring treatment services and intervention. Ms Hewitt said alcohol and other drug use was a major public health concern in Australia with impacts on injury, mental illness, violence, crime, preventable disease and death.
- For support, contact BCH on 5338 4500.
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