The Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) annual report has highlighted an increase in demand with more than 2500 clients seen across WRAD’s general practice, clinical services and needle syringe program. Director Geoff Soma said that over the past year alcohol continued to affect the lives of clients and their families and remained the number one reason for presentations at WRAD.

Cannabis and methamphetamine-like substances also created harm at a significant level and the addition of pharmacotherapy client statistics in reporting figures led to marked increase in heroin presentations. Thirty three per cent of people attending WRAD were seeking support for an alcohol problem, the largest category.

More than 30 per cent of clients were aged 25-34, while the 35-44 age group was the second biggest.

Fifty per cent of clients during the 2011/12 year were unemployed.  Less than 30 per cent reported having been employed during the period and the remainder were either students or engaged in home duties.

Mr Soma said WRAD had also experienced growth in its general practice which provides bulk billing services to the community. He said collaboration and joint health promotion campaigns with South West Healthcare Psychiatric Services, Turning Point, Community South West and other agencies ensured WRAD was meeting the needs of clients. “Clients had access to a range of services including counselling, supported accommodation, home based withdrawal, medical services and the mental health nurse incentive program.  Referrals to other agencies locally and in the metropolitan region provided a continuum of care for WRAD clients,” he said. “WRAD has consistently demonstrated its willingness to try different things and to make the most of every opportunity to strive for a better service.”

“Clients deserve a system that responds to their individual needs in a timely manner with the ability to treat their multiple issues effectively and with the appropriate support structures in place.  They have the right to be treated in a humane way without discrimination and require the respect that any other health problem commands.  This includes an effective treatment system and one that is matched with a financial investment that demonstrates that we are all serious and committed about tackling this problem.”

Mr Soma said one of the highlights of the year was a $100,000 donation from Mr Geoff Handbury. “We are particularly thankful for Geoff Handbury’s ongoing support which has enabled us to offer a range of programs to meet client needs where government funding does not cover all the gaps.”

Chairperson Helen Taylor said that 2011-12 “has been challenging, reflecting the tighter economic times and changes with demands placed upon ‘not for profit’ organisations. WRAD has continued to provide a wide array of professional services and ongoing partnerships across the community but it has also invested much time and effort into governance, risk assessment/management and accreditation.”

Ms Taylor said the WRAD general practice has shown increased numbers of patients attending over the year.  “Initially people have used the general practice as an emergency appointment but we are now beginning to see return clients,” she said.

The WRAD AGM was held on October 23.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here