Rise in need for alcohol and amphetamine support

Posted on: Wednesday, 12 April 2017

There is increasing concern over the use of alcohol and amphetamines, a national online counselling service has reported.
 
Turning Point’s Counselling Online provides 24/7 support to people across Australia concerned about alcohol and other drugs related issues. 

An analysis of clients who accessed the website in 2013-14 revealed that alcohol was the primary drug of concern among 41 per cent of website visitors, up from 37.5 per cent in 2007-08. 

After alcohol, amphetamines were the next most common drug of concern in 2013-14, a change from 2007-08 when it was cannabis.  

In 2013-14, amphetamines were the primary drug of concern in 19.3 per cent of visits, with cannabis making up 11.9 per cent of visits.

However, in 2007-08, amphetamines were the primary drug of concern in 14.5 per cent of visits, with cannabis making up 17.4 per cent of visits. 

Researchers said that the Counselling Online service continued to be an easily accessible treatment option for people concerned about their own substance use, as well as others.

According to this research by Turning Point Treatment & Systems Strategic Lead Dr Victoria Manning and Turning Point Director Professor Dan Lubman, the flexibility of Counselling Online is attractive to clients, with the majority of sessions delivered outside of business hours, including major cities where more face-to-face services are available.

Funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health, Counselling Online’s primary service is online text-based counselling for people concerned about their own drinking or drug use. It is also available to people concerned about a family member, relative or friend. In addition, the service provides a wide range of information, self help and screening tools and will soon launch an online forum.

The study found that Counselling Online delivered 2003 sessions between July 2013 and June 2014. Of those sessions, 67.6 per cent were delivered after hours.  

“Operating as a 24-hour, seven days a week service, it is accessible during and outside of business hours, and reaches geographically isolated clients where support services may be limited or have long waiting lists,” Prof Lubman said.

The study found more than ten ethnicities were represented in the sample. As well as Australian, British and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, other ethnicities included African, American, Asian, Canadian, European, Indian, Mexican and South American.  

According to the researchers, the broad range of ethnicities suggests that Counselling Online is reaching individuals with diverse backgrounds, as well as populations that may face additional barriers, such as language or cultural barriers.  

Prof Lubman and Dr Manning also found that women were more likely to contact a support service such as Counselling Online, with females making up 64.8 per cent of clients.

“Research suggests women are a marginalised population and less likely to seek help in traditional face-to-face AOD services,” Dr Manning said. 

“Individuals seeking public AOD face-to-face services are more likely to be older and male, suggesting that Counselling Online fills an important gap for people who may be reluctant, unable or less likely to seek support via traditional routes.”

Counselling Online is a free service provided by staff with professional qualifications and experience in alcohol and drug counselling and treatment.  It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Visit www.counsellingonline.org.au for details.