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Drug treatment overview for Austria

Map of Austria

1. National context

All nine Austrian provinces have drawn up drug strategies and nominated drug coordinators that are responsible for coordinating drug treatment at the regional level. A drug coordinator has been appointed to accredit and monitor treatment at the national level under the 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 primarily finance drug treatment.

Addiction treatment services are provided both by specialised centres and as part of general healthcare services (e.g. psychiatric hospitals, psychosocial services and office-based medical doctors). General healthcare services are largely involved in OST provision. Drug treatment services in Austria are very diverse. They 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 the majority of the outpatient facilities are counselling centres. While counselling centres treat users of licit and illicit drugs, there are several specialised treatment and reintegration facilities 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 it is increasingly available in outpatient settings. New target groups for treatment service providers are immigrants, pregnant women, young people, older drug users and persons with psychiatric comorbidity; special treatment programmes are available also for cocaine or cannabis users.

OST is widely available and has become the most important form of treatment in Austria, and is often provided by general practitioners. A psychiatrist or physician can prescribe substitution medication, as stipulated in the Oral Substitution Treatment of Opiate Addicts, and a medical officer must sign a long-term prescription. In 2009 the Narcotic Drugs Decree was amended to regulate changes to the conditions for take-home substitution medication, and to establish a requirement to obtain a second opinion for diagnosis and treatment options for patients under the age of 20. Furthermore, the Oral Substitution Further Training Decree adopted in 2005 and amended in 2009 stipulates that general practitioners and public health officers need to attend training in order to be qualified and authorised to supervise prescription and to deliver substitution treatment. The qualification licence is valid for three years. In addition to office-based medical doctors and specialised outpatient centres, substitution 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 complimentary psychosocial support services.

In 2013 a total of 16 989 clients were receiving OST. Around 9 413 clients received slow-release morphine, 2 465 received methadone and 3 663 received buprenorphine-based medications (the remaining client share includes clients receiving levo-methadone). Taking account of coverage and the overlap between DOKLI and eSuchtmittel, it is estimated that around 22 000 clients had received drug-related treatment in Austria.

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2. Treatment registries and monitoring systems

The Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth (BMGFJ) is in charge of accrediting and monitoring of treatment in Austria. The routine implementation of the new nationwide treatment documentation system of clients of drug help centres in Austria – DOKLI – started in January 2006. All drug clients of about 180 participating drug services are now recorded in a standardised way. Once a year, the data collected at local level will be transmitted to the ÖBIG which is in charge of data processing and analysis as well as provision of an annual report on the results. DOKLI is based on the Treatment Demand Indicator (TDI). Since March 2007, medical doctors who provide substitution treatment are legally obliged to report to a national register of substitution treatment, which is also based at the BMGFJ.

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3. Treatment demand

Table 1: Number of clients entering treatment in Austria by year
Clients in treatment 2010 2011 2012 2013
Number of all clients entering treatment 5271 4563 4391 3631
Number of all clients entering treatment with known primary drug 4330 3763 3637 2957
% of which for opioid use 66.6 64.5 58 52.0
% of which for cocaine use 6.5 6.0 8 10.2
% of which for cannabis use 20.2 22.5 25 30.0
% of which for stimulants use (other than cocaine) 2.2 2.7 3 4.5
Number of new clients entering treatment 1828 1588 1709 1569
Number of new clients entering treatment with known primary drug 1598 1372 1373 1225
% of which for opioid use 49.1 41.3 36 29.5
% of which for cocaine use 8.1 7.6 10 11.8
% of which for cannabis use 35.7 41.8 45 50.6
% of which for stimulants use (other than cocaine) 3.5 4.7 4 5.9
Notes:
The variation across time, in particular with regard to the absolute numbers of clients in treatment, should be interpreted with caution as coverage data may have changed over time.
For further information on coverage details please refer to the relevant EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.
For an explanation of terms used, see the definitions of terms.
Sources:

Reitox national reports 2014 and TDI tables.
EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin 2015.

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4. Treatment provision

Table 2: Opioid substitution treatment provision in Austria
Opioid substitution treatment 2010 2011 2012 2013
Number of clients in opioid substitution treatment 14962 16782 16892 16989
of which with methadone N. Av. 3638 2730 2465
of which with buprenorphine N. Av. 3444 3546 3663
Notes:
For a detailed European overview please see the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin 2015 (HSR section) .
‘N. Av.’ stands for ‘No information available’.
For an explanation of terms used, see the definitions of terms.
Sources:
Standard Table 24 (ST24) on 'Treatment availability' submitted in 2014.
Table 3: Year of official introduction of opioid substitution treatment substances in Austria
Applied substances in opioid substitution treatment Officially introduced in
Methadone (MMT) 1987
Buprenorphine (HDBT) 1999
Heroin assisted treatment,including as trials N.App.
Slow-release morphine 1998
Buprenorphine/naloxone combination 2008
Notes:
For a detailed European overview please see the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin 2015 (HSR section).
‘N. App.’ stands for ‘Not applicable’.
For an explanation of terms used, see the definitions of terms.
Sources:
Reitox national reports.
Table 5: Legal framework of opioid substitution treatment in Austria
Legal framework of opioid substitution treatment Methadone Buprenorphine
Do office-based medical doctors have the right to initiate the prescription of substitution treatment? N.App. N.App.
Do specialised medical doctors have the right to initiate the prescription of substitution treatment? Yes Yes
Notes:
For a detailed European overview please see the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin 2015 (HSR section).
For an explanation of terms used, see the definitions of terms.
'Specialised medical doctors' refers to specifically trained or accredited office-based medical doctors.
Sources:
Structured Questionnaire on 'Treatment programmes'(SQ27P1), submitted in 2014.

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5. References and links

Related EMCDDA resources

 

External links

Please note that the EMCDDA is not responsible for the content of external sites.

 

Treatment inventories

  • ÖBIG (DE) – Österreichischer Suchthilfekompass (Austrian Addiction Help Compass)

 

Treatment research centres

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About the EMCDDA

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Friday, 22 May 2015