SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- There is a range of alcohol and other drug (AOD) related services available in Victoria, many of which are free.
- For advice and referral to AOD treatment and programs, call DirectLine (Tel. 1800 888 236) – Victoria's free and confidential 24-hour counselling phone line.
- For information and advice about treatment and programs specifically for young people, call the Youth Drug and Alcohol Advice (YoDAA) line 1800 458 685.
- Some people may need to explore a number of different treatment options, or a combination of treatment options at once, before they find out what works for them.
- If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s alcohol or drug use, your local doctor will be able to refer you for treatment or direct you into a program that is right for you.
About alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatments and programs
There is a range of AOD services available in Victoria, many of which are free. Most of these services are available throughout regional and metropolitan areas. Which or service is best will depend on each person's individual needs.
If you think you have, or someone you know has, an alcohol or other , the first step in getting help is talking to someone. and health professionals can provide you with confidential advice and refer you to a treatment program that is right for you. They are legally bound to keep whatever you tell them confidential.
You can take this first step by:
- visiting your local
- calling on . This is a 24-hour telephone counselling, information and referral service for anyone affected by drugs in Victoria.
The intake and assessment process, endorsed by the Department of Health, ensures a consistent process across services and reduces the need for people to repeat their story.
Treatment options for AOD dependency
Different treatments aim for different outcomes, whether it's getting off AOD altogether (abstinence) or reducing AOD use to a safer and less harmful level.
Some of the treatment options available include:
- residential detoxification (withdrawal) services
- home-based withdrawal services
- residential rehabilitation
- group therapy
- pharmacotherapy medication
- peer support.
Not everyone completes a treatment program the first or even second time. It may take some people multiple attempts before they start achieving their desired results.
Some people find they need to explore a few different treatment options before they find what works for them.
Harm reduction when treating AOD dependency
Harm reduction recognises that there will always be some people who will use drugs, and some people who may be unwilling or unable to stop using drugs. Rather than aiming exclusively for abstinence, the concept of harm reduction centres on reducing some of the harmful effects of drug use for the individual, their family/friends and the general community.
An example is the needle exchange program, which involves distributing sterile injecting equipment to reduce the incidence of and other bloodborne diseases that can be passed through people using intravenous drugs and sharing needles. For many people, reducing the harms relating to AOD use is a more realistic goal than quitting altogether.
Counselling – online and phone support
Counselling is provided by healthcare professionals, including , , and . It may be delivered face-to-face, online or over the telephone for individuals (and in some instances their families), as well as via group counselling and day programs. Counselling can range from a brief intervention or single session to extended periods of one-to-one engagement or group work.
is a 24-hour-a-day referral and advice line that is free, anonymous and confidential. You can talk to a professional counsellor who is experienced in AOD-related matters, and they can start you on the path to recovery.
- immediate counselling and support, including crisis intervention
- support in dealing with the impact of drug use on the family
- assistance in developing strategies to deal with AOD problems
- information about how to reduce the harm associated with drug use
- information and referral to treatment and support services across Victoria
- links to further information and education resources.
If you prefer to access support online, offers free, confidential online counselling 24 hours a day. This is offered by which is text-based counselling for people with an AOD problem, and others affected by AOD use in the community, including family members, relatives and friends.
Counselling Online can be accessed from any computer or mobile device in Australia with connection to the internet. No special equipment or downloads are required.
AOD withdrawal services
Detoxification ('detox' or withdrawal) is a process where you remove a drug from the body completely or significantly reduce substance levels. If you are dependent on AOD, you may suffer from withdrawal symptoms if you stop using or reduce the amount you are using.
Withdrawal from certain substances – such as and minor tranquillisers () – can be life-threatening in extreme circumstances. Therefore, a medical assessment should be considered before you complete a withdrawal.
- Residential withdrawal – this usually involves a short stay in a community residential drug withdrawal service or hospital.
- Home-based withdrawal – this involves a series of intensive individual sessions over a short period, followed by ongoing counselling. It is provided by an experienced nurse and a doctor for people whose withdrawal symptoms are only mild to moderate, and for whom support is available from a family member or friend at home. Home-based withdrawal can either be accessed through a community-based service, or as an outpatient at a hospital.
Methadone and other pharmacotherapies
Methadone is accessible through local doctors who have been trained to prescribe it. The medication itself is delivered through some community . Specialist methadone services may be required if you have additional and complex medical, psychiatric or psychological problems. Specialist methadone services operate from hospitals.
- Residential rehabilitation – this provides a safe and supported environment for people who are not able to reduce or overcome their drug use issues through other programs, to address underlying issues leading to their drug use. It provides a range of interventions, such as individual and group counselling, with an emphasis on mutual self-help and peer support, and supported reintegration into the community.
- Therapeutic day rehabilitation – this is aimed at supporting people who are at risk of short-term harm as a result of their AOD use and needing intensive support. Unlike residential rehabilitation, people accessing therapeutic day rehabilitation will be able to remain at home while accessing support
- Peer support – this is help from a person with first-hand experience of alcohol and drug use. Peer support groups or activities are usually delivered by people who currently or previously used AOD.
Care and recovery coordination
If you are receiving drug treatment as well as other services or programs (such as housing, mental health, employment programs), you may be assigned a care and recovery coordinator. They will work with the other service providers to make sure all of your needs are met and that you are supported in the community.
Your care and recovery coordinator will help smooth the treatment pathway for you and those supporting you. They will improve your access to other services, and support you to work with family or friends to plan your treatment and set your personal recovery goals.
AOD support services for families
Families can provide a much-needed support network for people experiencing problems with AOD, but they themselves may need support to do this.
- Family drug help – there are many self-help groups across Victoria for family members of people who use AOD. They provide support, information and advice for families.
- Parent support – these programs are provided by AOD professionals to groups of parents across the state. They provide support to parents and families of AOD users and guide them through supporting a child or other family member with a substance problem.
- Sibling support – these programs address the mental health and wellbeing of brothers and sisters affected by addiction in the family.
- Family counselling – these services are provided to families who are looking for assistance, counselling and support for a family member who has a substance problem.
AOD support services for young people
Services available specifically for young people include:
- Youth outreach and support – assessment, support and ongoing case coordination for young people in their own environment.
- Youth residential withdrawal – provided through a community residential (live-in) drug withdrawal service or through hospital-based treatment.
- Youth home-based withdrawal – provided where the withdrawal is of mild to moderate severity, and the person can be supported by a family member or friend at home.
- Youth residential rehabilitation – 24-hour staffed residential programs that provide a range of interventions for young people whose use of drugs has caused them significant harm.
- Youth supported accommodation – a supportive residential environment to help young people achieve lasting change and help with their re-introduction into the community.
AOD support services for women
Several treatment options have been established specifically for women – for example, group counselling sessions that are for women only, with childcare available if required.
Some of Victoria’s AOD services specifically for women include:
- , Royal Women’s Hospital Tel.
- Grampians Community Health services for women Tel.
- , Ngwala Willumbong Co-operative Tel. .
AOD support services for Aboriginal people
AOD services are available throughout Victoria for Aboriginal people who are affected (either directly or indirectly) or who are at risk of being affected by substance abuse. These services are delivered by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and some mainstream AOD services.
The role of specific Aboriginal AOD workers is to work in a culturally informed way with Aboriginal individuals and families to address their AOD use.
Referrals to Aboriginal-specific services can be made through: