Department of Health

Key messages

  • The Victorian Severe Substance Dependence Treatment Act 2010 (the Act) allows for a brief period (up to 14 days) of detention and compulsory treatment of people where this is necessary as a matter of urgency to save the person's life or prevent serious damage to their health.
  • It is a last resort treatment option for a small group of people who, without this life-saving intervention, would most likely become permanently disabled or die. The Act is not targeted towards those who are capable of making choices about their substance use, including refusing treatment.
  • Research has shown that for this group of people, a brief period of detention and treatment can be beneficial and lifesaving.
  • The purpose of the Act is to give the person access to medically assisted withdrawal, time to recover, capacity to make decisions about their substance use and the opportunity to engage in voluntary treatment.
  • The Act defines criteria for making a detention and treatment order and the process for making the order. It includes provisions for what happens once a person is admitted to the declared treatment centre.

Criteria for detention and treatment

The following criteria for detention and treatment must apply before detention and treatment are considered.

1.The person has 'severe substance dependence' when:

  • the person has a tolerance to the substance
  • the person shows withdrawal symptoms when they stop using, or reduce the level of use of the substance
  • the person is incapable of making decisions about their substance use and personal health, welfare and safety due primarily to the person's dependence on the substance.

2. Due of the person's severe substance dependence, immediate treatment is necessary as a matter of urgency to save the person's life or prevent serious damage to the person's health.

3.The treatment can only be provided to the person through the admission and treatment of the person in a treatment centre.

4.There is no less restrictive means reasonably available to ensure the person receives the treatment (including an unwillingness to engage in voluntary treatment).

Reviewed 09 September 2015


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