What is the Involuntary Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program (IDAT)?

The IDAT Program  provides involuntary treatment as an option of last resort to people with severe substance dependence.

The NSW Drug and Alcohol Treatment Act 2007 (the Act) provides the legislative basis for assessment, stabilisation and treatment in an involuntary capacity, and outlines the criteria for admission into the program.

The intention of IDAT is to protect the health and safety of people with severe substance dependence who are at risk of serious harm while also safeguarding their human rights.

IDAT provides medically supervised withdrawal management and post-withdrawal assessment and treatment in a specialised inpatient unit. This is followed by a voluntary community care component provided by the patient's local health district for up to six months.  There are 12 IDAT beds across two hospital-based treatment centres: one at Royal North Shore Hospital campus with four beds, and Bloomfield Hospital campus in Orange with eight beds.

Who is eligible?

IDAT patients must be aged 18 years or older. The criteria for involuntary admission includes all of the following:

  1. severe substance dependence, and
  2. care or treatment is necessary to protect from serious harm, and
  3. likely to benefit from treatment for substance dependence and has previously refused treatment, and
  4. no other appropriate and less restrictive means is available.

Further information about eligibility and suitability for referral is available as a fact sheet here.

Referral by a medical practitioner

A referral to IDAT must be made by a medical practitioner to an Accredited Medical Practitioner (AMP) based at the treatment centre. Involuntary Treatment Liaison Officers (ILTOs) in local health districts coordinate the referral process.

Assessment for a Dependency Certificate

An AMP from one of the IDAT units conducts an assessment, and if all four of the eligibility criteria are met, will issue the person with a Dependency Certificate.

If a Dependency certificate is issued, and a bed is available, the person can be admitted for treatment. Local health districts can arrange transportation to the treatment unit.

Within seven days of admission the Dependency Certificate is reviewed by a Magistrate in an informal hearing usually at the treatment unit.

Involuntary treatment

The involuntary treatment admission is the first stage of the Program. The typical length of stay is 28 days from when the Dependency Certificate is issued unless otherwise decided by an AMP or Magistrate. The involuntary treatment includes:

  • comprehensive medical and psychiatric assessment
  • medically supervised withdrawal management
  • psychoeducation and therapeutic program
  • aftercare and discharge planning

    At the end of the involuntary treatment, the patient is discharged and transitioned to community care.

Voluntary treatment options

The Assertive Case Management (ACM) program is available in seven local health districts and St Vincent's Health Network to help people with severe substance dependence and complex needs to access the type of support provided by IDAT in the community.

More information about the range of other treatment services, and details for local health district central intake lines are available at NSW Health's drug and alcohol contact services page.

For general questions and support on alcohol and other drug related issues, call ADIS (Alcohol and Drug Information Service) on 9361 8000 or 1800 422 599 (outside Sydney).


 The IDAT Referral Information Sheet