Department of Health

Overview of Victoria's alcohol and drug treatment system

Key messages

  • Catchment-based intake services are the primary point of entry into the Victorian alcohol and other drug treatment system inclusive of youth, adult, residential and non-residential, Aboriginal, state and Commonwealth-funded services.
  • Catchment-based intake providers work closely with the statewide screening and referral service, DirectLine, and other treatment providers to facilitate client intake and referral to treatment.
  • Once intake has occurred, treatment providers conduct comprehensive assessment and treatment planning incorporating the following service types: counselling, withdrawal, rehabilitation, care and recovery coordination and pharmacotherapy.

Access to treatment

The Victorian Government funds catchment-based entry points to the alcohol and other drug service system across the state.

There are two ways people can access intake and be referred to treatment. The first is to contact DirectLine on 1800 888 236 or via the DirectLine websiteExternal Link . DirectLine provides 24-hour, 7-day counselling, information and referral.

The second way to access treatment is by contacting the local intake provider. People seeking treatment may also be referred to intake services from a range of health and human service providers (such as a general practitioner).

Intake services

As the primary entry point to the treatment system, catchment-based intake services provide local knowledge to support client pathways to all Victorian alcohol and other drug treatment services.

Intake services work closely with DirectLine and other treatment providers to facilitate intake, triage, and referral to treatment, including the use of brief interventions and bridging support as required. They also support families and friends of people with alcohol and other drug issues.

Through intake services, clients are referred to an appropriate treatment provider based on their individual treatment and support needs. The treatment provider will then work with the client to undertake comprehensive assessment and treatment planning in a therapeutic setting. Person-centred treatment is a governing principle in the delivery of services. Clients may choose to seek intake services away from where they live. This means that access to alcohol and other drug services is not limited by catchment boundaries.

Alcohol and other drug treatment catchments - Metro Melbourne

Colorful map of alcohol and other drug treatment catchments - Metro Melbourne

Alcohol and other drug treatment catchments - Regional Victoria

Colorful map of alcohol and other drug treatment catchments - Regional Victoria

What to expect from treatment

The Victorian Government has developed a set of treatment principles for funded Victorian alcohol and other drug treatment services.

The treatment principles shape service delivery and support innovation so that Victoria’s alcohol and other drug treatment services work better for those people who need it.

In addition, funded alcohol and other drug treatment providers are asked to:

  • provide a friendly, welcoming and culturally safe environment for all clients, including Aboriginal people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual (LGBTIQA+) people and their families and friends
  • deliver services in ways that are also consistent with the Victorian alcohol and other drug client charter
  • ensure clients have the right to privacy and provide informed consent for any information regarding their care to be exchanged among workers within a treatment service or with other relevant agencies
  • consider the needs of family and the support people of those that have alcohol or other drug issues. This includes considering the need of dependent children.

Treatment streams

Treatment and support services are delivered through the following treatment streams across Victoria.


Counselling services incorporate face-to-face, online and telephone services for individuals and, in some instances, their families, as well as group counselling and day programs. Counselling can range from a brief intervention or single session to extended periods of one-to-one engagement or group work.

Non-residential withdrawal

Non-residential withdrawal services support people to safely withdraw from alcohol and other drug dependence in community settings, in coordination with medical services such as hospitals and general practitioners.

Residential withdrawal

Residential withdrawal services support clients to safely withdraw from alcohol and other drug dependence in a supervised residential or hospital facility. These services support people with complex needs or those whose family and accommodation circumstances are less stable and unsuited to non-residential withdrawal.

Therapeutic day rehabilitation

Therapeutic day rehabilitation is a non-residential treatment option that offers an intensive structured program over a period of weeks, which includes both counselling and a range of other elements designed to build life skills and promote general wellbeing, such as financial management and nutrition.

Residential rehabilitation

Residential rehabilitation provides a safe and supportive environment for people who are not able to reduce or overcome their drug use issues through other programs. Residential rehabilitation works to address underlying issues leading to their drug use, providing a range of interventions, such as individual and group counselling with an emphasis on mutual self-help and peer community, and supported reintegration into the community.

Care and recovery coordination

For people with complex needs, care and recovery coordination is available to support people to navigate treatment and access appropriate services. It also supports a person to plan for exit from treatment and to access other services that can assist with health and wellbeing needs such as housing, training, education and employment, or other support that can help prevent relapse.


Pharmacotherapy is the use of medication to assist in the treatment of opioid addiction. The Victorian pharmacotherapy system consists of community-based pharmacotherapy providers and specialist pharmacotherapy services. Specialist pharmacotherapy services provide secondary consultation for complex clients.

Population-specific services

Youth services

Youth services offer treatment and support to vulnerable young people who are aged 12 to 25 years, and their friends and family, to help address their alcohol and other drug use issues. The approach integrates a range of other services including mental health, education, health, housing, and child protection and family services.

Aboriginal services

Aboriginal services offer holistic, culturally-appropriate care, support and treatment to Aboriginal clients, families and communities to help reduce the harms associated with alcohol and other drug use.

Forensic services

Forensic-specific programs and services are for people who access alcohol and other drug treatment as a result of their contact with the criminal justice system. Treatment for forensic clients is aimed at reducing the harms associated with alcohol and other drug misuse, including the related offending behaviour.

Cost of services

Access to Victoria's state-funded alcohol and other drug treatment system is generally free. There are no fees or charges for assessment, counselling, therapeutic day rehabilitation programs, non-residential withdrawal or care and recovery coordination services.

Some residential services charge a nominal fee. Most publicly-funded residential rehabilitation services charge a rental fee. This is usually a percentage of a person's Centrelink payments, for the duration of their stay in residential rehabilitation. These payments vary from service to service.

Residential withdrawal services may charge nominal fees to clients for adjunct therapies, activities and medications. Some services ask clients to contribute for pharmaceuticals, complementary therapies, and activities.

More information

Detailed service specifications for particular programs and services across the treatment system are provided in the Alcohol and other drugs program guidelines.

Reviewed 07 December 2023


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