July 21, 2021
Alcohol is the number one substance use issue for people in south-west Victoria, and the percentage of people experiencing problems is growing.
New figures released by the Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) show that alcohol is now the primary substance of concern for 50 per cent of clients.
That percentage has gradually increased during 2021 as the pandemic continues to cause concern.
WRAD operations manager Mark Powell said the local figures reflected the broader national situation.
In January, 42 per cent of WRAD clients presented with alcohol as their primary substance of concern. In February that figure grew to 46 per cent, March 48 per cent, April 45 per cent and in May and June it was 50 per cent.
The south-west Victorian figures follow the release of the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services in Australia annual report 2019-20 that shows 139,300 Australians aged 10 and over received treatment for alcohol or other drug use. Nationally, alcohol made up 34 per cent of all treatment episodes, followed by amphetamines 28 per cent and cannabis 18 per cent.
Amphetamines and cannabis are also the second and third most prevalent causes of presentations to WRAD.
However, Mr Powell said there was a silver lining as there is a path to recovery for people facing substance use issues.
“We have very good research in what helps and WRAD has a lot of expertise and experience in helping people who have alcohol use issues,” he said.
“Since COVID, WRAD has become more proficient in using telehealth options to support people who are unable to attend face to face.”
WRAD has also increased services to the Corangamite and Moyne areas with additional funding from the State government under the Alcohol and Other Drugs COVID-19 Workforce Initiative.
The national figures show alcohol was the most common principal drug of concern in older age groups: almost 3 in 5 clients (58%) aged 50–59, and over 7 in 10 clients (74%) aged 60 and over received treatment for alcohol. The majority of clients receiving alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services were male (64%), and this was the same for those receiving treatment for alcohol use (65% male).
At WRAD, 22 per cent of clients are aged over 50.
Mr Powell said research showed that people often don’t seek help for substance use disorders until the long-term impacts become more severe. “We also know that the earlier someone seeks help for a substance use issue the better their outcomes are in so many areas of life, not just physical health.”
Anyone curious about their level of substance use or want to know more about the programs that WRAD offers can call 1300 00 9723 and ask to speak with a clinician or visit www.wrad.org.au
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The WRAD Centre’s vision is to advance the health and wellbeing of those in the South Western Region of Victoria affected by Addictive behaviours and to promote optimal enjoyment of life.
The WRAD Centre seeks to provide comprehensive, holistic support and treatment to individuals and others affected by addictive behaviors and associated issues.
The philosophy of harm minimisation underpins the delivery of all programs offered by WRAD. This principle recognises that people in our society use both licit and illicit drugs, and that drugs can be used in ways that are more or less harmful to individuals, families and society. Harm minimisation offers a number of options designed to reduce the harm of drug use to the user and society.
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