All nine Austrian provinces have drawn up drug strategies and nominated drug coordinators who are responsible for coordinating drug treatment at regional level. A drug coordinator has been appointed to accredit and monitor treatment at national level under the Federal Ministry of Health. The Provincial Conference of Drug Coordinators performs inter-regional coordination of drug treatment policies. The provincial governments, the social insurance funds and the federal government fund most drug treatment.
Drug treatment services are provided both by specialised centres and as part of general healthcare services (e.g. psychiatric hospitals, psychosocial services and officebased medical doctors). Primary healthcare services are also involved in opioid substitution treatment (OST) provision. Drug treatment services provide a range of options and can be flexibly applied to respond to a client’s treatment and social needs. The treatment programmes are offered in modular form, providing both short-term and long-term options. Treatment is mostly provided on an outpatient basis, and most outpatient facilities are also counselling centres. While counselling centres treat users of licit and illicit substances, several specialised treatment and reintegration facilities are available almost exclusively for illicit drug users. Outpatient psychosocial interventions cover a range of services, such as counselling, outreach work, psychotherapy, aftercare and reintegration programmes. Inpatient psychosocial interventions are provided in both specific and generic facilities, offering long-term and short-term treatment, often combined with inpatient detoxification. Detoxification treatment is primarily carried out in inpatient facilities, but is becoming increasingly available in outpatient settings. Many providers of inpatient or residential treatment are organised as non-profit limited companies or associations and provide mainly residential treatment programmes including preand aftercare. New target groups for treatment service providers are migrants, pregnant females, young people, older drug users and people with psychiatric comorbidity; special treatment programmes are also available for cocaine or cannabis users.
OST is widely available and is the treatment of choice for opioid dependence in Austria; it is mostly provided by general practitioners. A psychiatrist can also prescribe substitution medications. This modality of treatment is also provided by public health authorities, hospitals and prisons. In recent years, actions have been taken at the provincial level to improve the quality of OST services and integrate them with complementary psychosocial support services.
Austria is one of the few countries in Europe where slowrelease morphine is prescribed as an opioid substitution medication.
Out of a total of around 23 250 people treated in Austria in 2015, most were treated in outpatient settings, while only a small proportion received treatment in inpatient settings and in prisons.
Data on those who entered treatment in 2015 indicate that opioids remain the primary substance for which drug users seek treatment, while the importance of cannabis has increased in the last five years. Data on all treatment entrants include partial data on those receiving OST. Opioid users accounted for by far the largest proportion of all treatment clients in Austria, with most receiving OST, mostly in the form of slow-release opioid medication.
Drug treatment in Austria: settings and number treated
NBYear of data 2015.
Trends in percentage of clients entering specialised drug treatment, by primary drug in Austria
NBYear of data 2015.
Opioid substitution treatment in Austria: share of clients receiving methadone or buprenorphine and trends in overall number
NBYear of data 2015. SROM: Slow-release oral morphine.