Treatment Services for People with Methamphetamine Dependence

Key findings

More services are available and used, but not everyone has access to treatment where and when they need it

The MHC has effectively managed the expansion of meth treatment services required by the WA Methamphetamine Strategy and Methamphetamine Action Plan. It ran a successful tender process that added 60 beds and 13 CADS staff to the existing network of drug and alcohol services.

The expansion of services has widened the treatment options available to people with meth problems and their families. Between May 2016 when the Strategy was announced and January 2018, the number of residential rehab beds increased 20% to 439, and the number of withdrawal beds increased 24% to 44. Implementing the Strategy also added a specialist outpatient clinic for people with complex withdrawal needs, a dedicated helpline and funding for frontline drug support nurses in hospital emergency departments.

At the same time, there has been a significant increase in the amount and proportion of AOD treatment undertaken by people with meth issues. Annual total treatments where meth was the main drug of concern increased by 38% from 5,482 in 2014-15 to 7,573 in 2016 17. Residential rehab treatments for people with a major meth problem grew by 74% in the same period.

Reporting from service providers indicates that treatment capacity still cannot meet demand, and the number of residential beds and CADS staff is below the MHC’s estimation, in Better Choices. Better Lives, of what would be needed. While average wait times for CADS support have improved, in the 3 months to January 2018, 96 people still waited longer for metropolitan CADS support than the MHC standards  require.

The MHC’s limited use of performance data means it cannot be sure it is getting best value for money

The MHC has strong working relationships with providers, and collects comprehensive information on episodes of treatment. It collects key performance information (KPIs) from providers, but has not ensured key performance indicators are defined in the same way by all providers. However, it does not use this information to assess how people use treatment services, the performance of service providers or to forecast future demand for services.

Assessing drug treatment effectiveness at a specific point in time is difficult because it does not aim to cure but rather to effect long-term behaviour change. Nor does treatment have a defined pathway or end point, and people often use services more than once.

Taken together, these issues make it hard for the MHC to be sure it is getting the best value for money from its providers, or if they are effectively and efficiently meeting clients’ needs.


Page last updated: December 18, 2018

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