PEOPLE living in regional or remote areas are more likely to access drug and alcohol services, even if they have to travel further to do so, new data shows.
The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report shows about 1 in every 153 people in regional and remote areas sought treatment for alcohol and other drug treatment, compared to 1 in 171 in major cities. But for more than a quarter of treatment episodes involving people in regional and remote areas, the client travelled an hour or longer, compared with around 1 in 10 clients in major cities.
Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and parts of the Hunter were considered major city areas, while Port Stephens and Hunter areas such as Cessnock, Pokolbin and Singleton were counted as "inner regional" areas.
The report showed people living in regional and remote areas were significantly more likely than their counterparts in major cities to drink alcohol daily - 8 per cent compared with 5 per cent.
They were also "significantly more likely" to drink at a level that put them at long-term risk of harm - 21 per cent compared with 15 per cent.
AIHW spokesperson Moira Hewitt said while the levels of recent drug use were similar - about 16 per cent in major cities and in regional and remote areas, the type of illicit drug used varied.
"People in major cities were significantly more likely than people in regional and remote areas to have recently used ecstasy and cocaine," she said.
"For people in remote and very remote areas, the burden of disease due to alcohol use was 2.1 and 2.7 times higher, respectively, than for those in major cities in 2011."
The rate of drug-induced deaths in 2017 was slightly higher in major cities. But in the past decade, the rate of drug-induced deaths had increased at a faster rate in regional and remote areas - up from 5.1 deaths per 100,000 in 2008 to 7.2 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, compared with an increase from 6.4 deaths per 100,000 people to 7.4 deaths per 100,000 people in major cities.
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