Additional $1 billion needed nationally to address unmet alcohol and drug treatment need

An additional $1 billion each year is needed across Australia for alcohol and other drug treatment to address unmet demand. This is the call coming from a network of organisations from the alcohol and other drug treatment fields, including the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Uniting, the Salvation Army, Noffs Foundation and St Vincent’s Health Australia.

The Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council of Tasmania is a member of the State and Territories Alcohol and other Drugs Peaks Network, who are also a part of this network of health and welfare organisations.

With an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 Australians unable to access treatment services every year, ATDC chief executive Alison Lai said that the network was calling on all governments, state and federal, to invest in alcohol and other drug treatment so that communities have the type of services they need.

“As well as increased investment, the network is calling on all governments across the country to improve planning and coordination across the alcohol or other drug sector, and increase investment in service and workforce capability,” Ms Lai said.

“This is happening because there is a need for increased investment in alcohol and other drug services in order to provide, not only more treatment, but more diverse treatment options.”

In Tasmania, alcohol and other drugs accounts for 799 emergency presentations and 2,268 hospital admissions every year. It also accounts for 52 per cent of burglary, assault and public disorder crimes and one third of road traffic injuries.

“The impact of alcohol and other drugs across the Tasmanian community is significant, and recent research undertaken in 2017 estimates that there may be up to 7,000 Tasmanians who are not currently receiving treatment,” Ms Lai said.

“Across the country, and in Tasmania, people aren’t accessing treatment, in part because of the stigma associated with alcohol and other drug use.

“Those who are seeking treatment are encountering waiting lists, and our members providing services are stretched by increased numbers of people seeking support and an increase in the complexity of people’s health issues.”

The network’s call to action is the beginning of a 12-month advocacy effort to deliver better alcohol and other drug treatment outcomes for hundreds of thousands of Australians