Barriers to methamphetamine withdrawal treatment in Australia: Findings from a survey of AOD service providers Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: Despite the high prevalence of methamphetamine use and dependence in Australia, withdrawal treatment access for methamphetamine accounts for only 9.3% of total withdrawal treatment presentations. Furthermore, treatment completion for methamphetamine users is one of the lowest of all drugs. There is not a clear understanding for the reasons why methamphetamine withdrawal treatment presentations and efficacy is so low. This study examined the current practices and barriers to methamphetamine withdrawal treatment in Australia. DESIGN AND METHODS: Twenty-four interviews were conducted with employees from alcohol and other drug services from around Australia. These services were questioned about a range of issues relating to methamphetamine withdrawal treatment including current treatment practices, perception of the effectiveness of current treatment and barriers to treatment. RESULTS: The study found that current practices in the treatment of methamphetamine withdrawal are diverse and uncertain. Service providers identified a great number of barriers to the treatment of methamphetamine withdrawal that encompass personal, social, cultural and organisational barriers. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that alcohol and other drug service providers are not clear about the best way to respond to clients seeking methamphetamine withdrawal treatment. Furthermore, the study showed a general pessimism about withdrawal treatment for this group. Treatment services should consider improving withdrawal protocols, educating clinicians and reconsidering entry criteria to better respond to methamphetamine users who have made the important first step into withdrawal treatment.

publication date

  • November 1, 2009