Alcohol and other drug treatment is available through publicly funded and private services across NSW. There are a range of treatment types suited to people with different needs and in different situations. To talk with someone about treatment needs and options, contact:

Overview of treatment services

Pyschosocial counselling

Psychosocial counselling is 'talk-based' treatment aimed at supporting people to understand their own or others' alcohol and other drug use, and to make changes for better health and wellbeing.

Counselling is often delivered face-to-face, but may also be available online or through a telephone service.

Counselling can be done individually, with family, or as part of a group. Other support services, such as education, case management and case coordination, may be provided as part of counselling.

For more information about psychosocial counselling options, contact ADIS - 1800 250 015.

Withdrawal management - also known as 'detoxification' or 'detox'

Withdrawal management is the short-term medical and psychological care of a person experiencing withdrawal symptoms as a result of stopping or reducing use of their drug of dependence. Withdrawal usually takes about one week, but can take longer depending on the type of drug used and individual circumstances. During withdrawal, people may be provided with medication and counselling to help manage symptoms.

Specialist withdrawal management services are provided in outpatient, inpatient (in hospital) and residential settings.

Withdrawal management is part of a longer term treatment approach and is usually required before entering into residential rehabilitation treatment.

For more information about withdrawal management options, contact:

Residential rehabilitation

Residential rehabilitation is the psychological care and support for people in a supervised alcohol and other drug-free residential community setting. Residential rehabilitation programs range from 4 weeks to 12 months in duration, that provide a range of support services such as individual and group counselling, physical health and wellbeing, and education and skills training.

Some residential rehabilitation services provide programs for populations with specific needs, such as young people or women with children.

Many residential rehabilitation services require people to have completed alcohol and other drug withdrawal management before admission to residential rehabilitation treatment.

For more information about residential rehabilitation options, contact:

Day rehabilitation programs

Day rehabilitation programs provide structured non-residential education, support and counselling services where people attend for set times during the day and/or evening, but remain living at their usual place of residence.

Day rehabilitation programs usually run for a set period of time (i.e. three or six weeks), include individual and group activities, and will have either a fixed intake (the same group of people for the entire program) or a rolling intake (where new people enter throughout the program). Day rehabilitation programs may provide greater flexibility than residential rehabilitation and may better meet some people's needs and circumstances.

For more information about day rehabilitation options, contact ADIS - 1800 250 015.

Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) - also known as 'opioid agonist treatment' or 'opioid substitution treatment'

The NSW Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) provides pharmacotherapy and support services to people with an opioid dependence. Treatment may be provided as a short term measure to assist people to stop use of other opioids, or as a longer term maintenance. The OTP may be provided alongside other treatments such as counselling or residential rehabilitation. The OTP is provided through public clinics, private clinics, approved general practitioners (GPs) and community pharmacies.

Current pharmacotherapy medications used in the NSW OTP are:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Buprenorphine-Naloxone

For more information, advice and referral to opioid treatment options, contact:

  • ADIS - 1800 250 015
  • Opioid Treatment Line - 1800 642 428

Specialty services and programs

Target populations

Treatment services may be tailored for, or delivered solely to, specific groups of people, recognising that these people have unique needs and may have better treatment outcomes with specialist services.

In NSW, there are specialist counselling and residential rehabilitation services for women, women with children, young people, Aboriginal people, and people with co-existing mental health issues.

Court diversion programs

Court diversion programs are specialist services for people who have come into contact with the criminal justice system as a result of their alcohol and other drug use and related offending behaviour. Court diversion programs facilitate access to specialist alcohol and other drug treatment and support as part of a person's bail, parole or probation requirements.

The two main court diversion programs provided through NSW Health are:

  • The Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment (MERIT) Program - MERIT is available through most local courts in NSW. This program provides adult defendants with alcohol or other drug issues the opportunity to voluntarily work towards rehabilitation as part of their bail process. The MERIT Program team closely case-manage defendants and send regular reports to the Magistrate. Defendants can be nominated for assessment for the MERIT Program by the Magistrate, their solicitor, the police or can be self-nominated. Please refer to Magistrates Early Referral Into Treatment for more information.
  • Adult Drug Court - Adult Drug Court is a specialised court operating under the Drug Court Act 1998 and aims to break the cycle of drug dependency, criminal activity and imprisonment. The Court targets drug-dependent adult offenders who are facing a custodial sentence and offers the option of drug treatment while on parole or probation. Currently, Adult Drug Court operates through three courts in NSW: Paramatta, Toronto and the Downing Centre. A local or district court in the defined catchment areas can make referrals to the Adult Drug Court for eligible offenders. Please refer to Drug Court of NSW for more information.

Stimulant treatment clinics

Stimulant treatment clinics provide specialist services for people who use stimulants such as methamphetamine or cocaine. Stimulant treatment clinics are located in six local health districts and specialty networks in NSW:

  • St Vincent's Health Network
  • Western Sydney Local Health District
  • Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
  • Hunter New England Local Health District
  • Mid North Coast Local Health District
  • Northern NSW Local Health District.

For more information, referral, crisis counselling and support specifically for stimulant users, contact:

  • ADIS - 1800 250 015
  • Local intake lines
  • Stimulant Treatment Line - Sydney metropolitan: (02) 9361 8088 | Regional and rural NSW: 1800 10 11 88

Involuntary Drug and Alcohol Treatment (IDAT)

The IDAT provides short term involuntary care in a hospital ward to protect the health and safety of people with severe substance dependence, who have experienced or are at risk of serious harm, and whose decision-making capacity is compromised due to their substance use. IDAT participants must be 18 years or over.

There are two IDAT sites in NSW:

  • Bloomfield Hospital, Orange
  • Royal North Shore Hospital, North Sydney.

For more information, contact:

More information

Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health