Alcohol treatment in Australia.                                        

With the constant media coverage and public concerns re ICE (methamphetamine) use, It would seem that in Australia a new drug is taking over the beds in treatment centres and those overseas. The answer is it is far from the truth. 



Alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment policy is at a significant point of transition in Australia. The media is replete with examples of people unable to access appropriate AOD treatment — whether it be for detoxification, residential rehabilitation, pharmacotherapy or counselling. Anecdotal reports are backed by evidence of high unmet need and demand for treatment.

Fewer than half of those seeking AOD treatment in Australia are currently able to access appropriate treatment (National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, Sydney, NSW).

Treatment in Australia generally requires a full bio psycho social assessment and is underpinned by harm minimisation principles. In many cases this alone can take up to 4 weeks to be completed. Following the assessment one is generally required to wait up to 6 weeks to begin the residential withdrawal stay. Typical withdrawal means a 7 to 10 day stay in a residential facility. This process takes quite a lot of organisation and is often unachievable if you are addicted to alcohol and trying to do this on your own. Once detox is completed there is no guarantee that you can progress from detox to rehab. The previous process must once again be undertaken to be admitted to a residential rehabilitation. It’s no wonder that many people just give up and continue drinking alcohol. 

Private health funded treatment centres have a quicker admission process. Possibly a week if you can organise a psychiatric referral and you have the required level of cover. Less that half of Australians have private health cover with less than a third of those people having sufficient cover to enter Alcohol/drug treatment. Chronically addicted people often let their cover lapse or lose the ability to pay for it, forcing them back to medicare funded health service. Australians have a high dependency for the Government system to pay for and arrange health care and often don’t consider paying for service. Savings and superannuation are often overlooked due, in part, to the generational expectancy that the health system will take care of them. It simply cannot cope with the high demands. 

Habitat Therapeutics is a fully private facility and has a very efficient and quick entry process for detoxification. The benefit of Habitat Therapeutics is that there is no delay between the detox and rehab this provides the opportunity to take advantage of your motivation. Alcohol can be easily and comfortably handled with a well-planned detoxification. It need not be an awful “cold turkey” experience. Alcohol is a drug and drug addiction takes time to recover from and gain new skills to create a full and meaningful life. Rarely are these valuable assets gained in a 7-day detox. Time takes time. Use it well invest in yourself and get the care that you need. 

Warren S Holland

Clinical Manager,

Habitat Therapeutics, Australia.

Phone: 1300 262 820