Opioid use drops among younger people

Almost 47,000 opioid addicts were being treated with drugs such as methadone on a snapshot day in June 2012, according to the National opioid pharmacotherapy statistics annual data collection 2012 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). 

Of these, 13% were aged under 30, a dramatic drop from 28% in 2006.

In the same period, those aged 50 and older receiving treatment soared from eight to 18%. The proportion in the 30–49 age group remained stable.

"The figures suggest an ageing population of clients in pharmacotherapy treatment," said AIHW spokesperson Amber Jefferson.

After a rapid growth in the number of people receiving treatment from 1998 to 2010, the pace has fallen to less than 1% a year.

At the same time, the number of doctors prescribing treatment has grown significantly with most working in the private sector (82%), according to the report. There were 1768 prescribers of opioid