There are five critical issues captured in this report.
The number of Tasmanians seeking support during February increased from the month of January. There were 1,554 Tasmanians recorded as supported. Counselling continued to be the main treatment type accessed, alongside a significant increase in Tasmanians receiving information and education during this time.
Alcohol continued to be the primary drug of concern for which people sought treatment, followed by amphetamines and cannabis and tobacco (equal third). There was a particularly large increase in the number of Tasmanians seeking support for alcohol in February, with 47 per cent of the total number of people seeking support presenting with alcohol as their principal drug of concern.
While the number of Tasmanians waiting to access counselling and residential rehabilitation services has increased, the amount of time that they’re waiting has been gradually decreasing over the past three months. While the number of Tasmanians presenting for support in February increased, waiting list times have been gradually reducing over the past three months. The ATDC is aware that in some cases this is due to ATOD organisations adjusting existing resources and programs to respond to the increasing demand (e.g. it is not the result of additional staffing or financial investment into services, which continues to be recorded as the primary reason for waiting lists).
The impact of COVID-19 on Tasmanians presenting for support is becoming less obvious but is considered to be a key contributor to the increase in demand for services. Alongside an increase in the number of Tasmanians seeking support (and ATOD treatment providers observing an increase in the impact of alcohol on existing clients and referrals) the correlation of COVID-19 on these results is becoming less obvious. However, research continues to be released providing information into the impact of COVID-19 on substance use during the pandemic (e.g. in this report – increased alcohol consumption and alcohol retail marketing). Similarly the increase Tasmanians seeking treatment is occurring alongside increased calls to telephone AOD help lines by Tasmanians. This ‘service bubble’ was predicted by the ATDC back in June 2020 in our ‘Impact of COVID-19 on the Tasmanian Alcohol and Other Drug Sector’. Given this context, additional research and information, the ATDC continues to hold the view that the increase in demand for services is most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The level of employee stress and anxiety being reported as a direct of COVID-19 across community managed organisations is decreasing. However, the challenges of responding to increased levels of demand was a common theme reported in February as having an impact on the ATOD workforce.
This report is the fourth of eight and captures information for February 2021.