The Involuntary Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program General information

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What is the Involuntary Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program (IDAT)?

The IDAT Program (the Program) provides involuntary treatment as an option of last resort to people with severe substance dependence.

The NSW Drug and Alcohol Treatment Act 2007 (the Act) provides the legislative basis for assessment, detention, stabilisation and treatment.

The intention of the Program is to protect the health and safety of people with severe substance dependence who are at risk of serious harm while also safeguarding human rights.

The Program provides medically supervised withdrawal management and short term rehabilitation in a specialised inpatient unit, followed by community care on a voluntary basis.

Treatment setting

The Program receives state-wide referrals for the 12 IDAT places at two hospital based treatment centres. One of the treatment centres is at Royal North Shore Hospital in North Sydney with 4 beds, and the other is at Bloomfield Hospital in Orange with 8 beds.

The treatment program is delivered by multi-disciplinary care teams including medical practitioners, nurses, social workers, psychologists and occupational therapists.

Who is eligible?

The Program is available for people over 18 years of age. The criteria for involuntary admission includes all of the following:

  1. severe substance dependence, and
  2. care or treatment is necessary to protect from serious harm, and
  3. likely to benefit from treatment for substance dependence and has previously refused treatment, and
  4. no other appropriate and less restrictive means is available.

Severe substance use or dependence is defined as when an individual has a tolerance to a substance, shows withdrawal symptoms if they stop or reduce their level of substance use, and has lost the capacity to make decisions about the substance use.

The severity of substance dependence is determined by the extent of the negative impacts on the individual's physical and mental health, interpersonal relationships, occupational and other major obligations at work, study or home.

Referral by a medical practitioner

A referral to IDAT must be made by a medical practitioner to an Accredited Medical Practitioner (AMP) based at the treatment centre. The Involuntary Treatment Liaison Officers (ILTOs) in local health districts coordinate the referral process.

Assessment for a Dependency Certificate

An AMP from one of the IDAT units conducts an assessment, and if all four of the eligibility criteria are met, will issue the person with a Dependency Certificate.

If a Dependency certificate is issued, and a bed is available, the person can be admitted for treatment. Local health districts can arrange transportation to the treatment unit.

Within seven days of admission the Dependency Certificate is reviewed by a Magistrate in an informal hearing usually at the treatment unit.

Involuntary treatment

The involuntary treatment admission is the first stage of the Program. The typical length of stay is 28 days from when the Dependency Certificate is issued unless otherwise decided by an AMP or Magistrate. The involuntary treatment includes:

  • comprehensive medical and psychiatric assessment
  • medically supervised withdrawal management
  • psychoeducation and therapeutic program
  • aftercare and discharge planning

At the end of the involuntary treatment, the patient is discharged and transitioned to community care.

Community care

The aftercare stage of the Program provides community based support and intervention for up to six months with the aim of relapse. Aftercare support in the community may include a residential rehabilitation program, ongoing case management, other medical or health care, housing assistance and vocational and education supports.

Voluntary treatment options

The Assertive Case Management (ACM) program is available in seven local health districts and St Vincent's Health Network to help people with severe substance dependence and complex needs to access the type of support provided by IDAT in the community.

More information about the range of other treatment services, and details for local health district central intake lines are available at NSW Health's drug and alcohol contact services page.

For general questions and support on alcohol and other drug related issues, call ADIS (Alcohol and Drug Information Service) on 9361 8000 or 1800 422 599 (outside Sydney).

Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health