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Keywords:

  • marijuana;
  • counselling;
  • treatment initiation;
  • age;
  • indigenous

Abstract

Introduction and Aims

Over the past decade, there has been significant investment in dedicated cannabis-only treatment clinics in New South Wales. This study aims to describe the characteristics of clients and compares first-time treatment seeking history and treatment completion rates between dedicated and non-dedicated clinics.

Design and Methods

An observational study of administrative information from 209 012 drug and alcohol treatment episodes from services reporting to the New South Wales Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services Minimum Dataset, July 2003–June 2008.

Results

Across all episodes, cannabis was the second most prevalent primary drug of concern (17.8%, n = 37 242). The majority of clients primarily seeking treatment for cannabis were male (69.4%, 26 088), with a mean age of 29 years. Counselling was the most common cannabis treatment (34.1%, n = 12 713), with 11.6% (n = 1476) of those receiving counselling having done so at a cannabis clinic. Those treated in cannabis clinics were older (30.12 years vs. 27.95 years; P < 0.0001); had shorter episode durations (10.95 weeks vs. 12.71 weeks; P < 0.0001); and were more likely to be naïve to treatment (53.7% vs. 47.7%; P < 0.0001). Indigenous Australian treatment seekers were more likely to complete cannabis treatment in a dedicated cannabis clinic (49.6%) than in a non-dedicated clinic (40.5%; P < 0.05).

Discussion and Conclusion

Cannabis clinics have attracted groups traditionally difficult to attract and retain in treatment. As the cohort of daily cannabis users age, it is important that service models are attractive to older clients, new to treatment. Rigorous, prospective research examining client treatment outcomes are now warranted. [Copeland J, Allsop D. Dedicated ‘cannabis only’ treatment clinics in New South Wales, Australia: Client and treatment characteristics and associations with first-time treatment seeking. Drug Alcohol Rev 2014;33:565–71]