There are five critical issues captured in this report.
The number of Tasmanians seeking support has been continually increasing since February 2021. There were 1,920 Tasmanians recorded as supported. Counselling continued to be the main treatment type accessed, alongside a steady number of Tasmanians receiving information and education during this time (800+).
Alcohol continues to be the primary drug of concern for which people are seeking treatment (727 people). During April, support for cannabis continued to be slightly higher (401 people) than amphetamines (366 people) reflecting a similar trend from March. However, alcohol is by and far the main drug of concern. More than one third of all Tasmanians seeking support during April 2021 continued to be individuals seeking assistance with their drinking.
The number of Tasmanians waiting to access counselling and residential rehabilitation services decreased slightly during April but the waiting time for people to access information and education programs and services has significantly increased. Waiting lists remain either stable or have slightly increased during this time. For those organisations providing counselling that have waiting lists, the wait time remains stable at an average of three weeks. The waiting times for residential rehabilitation have also remained stable at an average of 4.6 weeks but the wait to access information and education services has increased to 12 weeks from four in March.
The lived experience perspective during April has provided important insights into how COVID-19 continues to impact substance use patterns, and also access to services.
The ongoing reporting and concern regarding COVID-19 has been reported to contributed to increased anxiety and substance use. Additionally, the shift to tele-health services (as a COVID-19 measure) is being reported as causing delays to appointments that are impacting access to prescriptions.
Additionally, there has been no change to the feedback from specialist treatment organisations regarding concerns about alcohol use amongst the people they’re supporting.
The number of Tasmanians seeking support from the national ATOD help line continues to increase at record levels.
The level of employee stress and anxiety being reported as a direct impact of COVID-19 across community managed organisations continues to be less obvious. However, the workforce challenges of addressing increased demand, insufficient funding and staffing levels was again a key theme reported in April.
This report is the sixth of eight and captures information for April 2021.