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Australia under-resourced for drug and alcohol treatment

According to the Medical Journal of Australia, Australia is woefully under-resourced when it comes to the treatment of alcohol and drugs and Australia needs to double its investment in alcohol and drug resources to meet unmet treatment needs.

Professor Alison Ritter, Director of the Drug Policy Modelling Program at the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre in Sydney, and Associate Professor Mark Stoove, from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne wrote in the editorial “Fewer than half of those seeking alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment in Australia are currently able to access appropriate treatment,”

They have both called the situation appalling and the situation is all the more concerning because people know the treatment works. “This is an appalling situation … and all the more concerning because we know treatment works and reduces the substantial social costs of harmful AOD consumption.”

Associate Professor Stoove, who heads the Burnet Institute’s Justice Health Program, specifically notes that “Australian governments currently spend most on law enforcement. Yet research shows that law enforcement responses, notably those related to incarceration, are far less cost-effective than treatment.”

Fewer than half of people seeking help actually get access to a program, and call for money spent on law enforcement to be redirected to treatment as research has shown it to be more cost-effective than legal responses such as imprisonment.

Funding and resources needed to be better targeted and integrated to be effective, the authors concluded.


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