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Substance misuse

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  • Release date: 30 October 2014
  • Period covered: 2013-14
  • Next update: October 2014
Data on clients seen at drug and alcohol treatment agencies.

Key facts from the Welsh National Database for Substance Misuse

  • There were 24,806 referrals to the database in 2013-14, excluding 39 referrals where there was no gender information provided, and a further 5,233 referrals who did not attend prior to assessment. This total is a slight increase from the figure in 2012-13 (24,691).
  • 54 per cent of these referrals were related to alcohol as the main problematic substance, 39 per cent to drugs as the main problematic substance and 6 per cent of referrals had no main problematic substance reported.
  • There has been a steady decline in Heroin referrals from 21% (5,541) in 2009-10 to 15% (3,810) in 2013-14, with Cannabis increasing slightly over the five year period from 8% (2,067) of all referrals in 2009-10 to 9% (2,324) in 2013-14.
  • Males accounted for 62 per cent of referrals for alcohol and 72 per cent of referrals for drugs.
  • The median age for alcohol referrals was 41 compared to a median age of 31 for drugs.
  • The total number of clients assessed in 2013-14 was 18,027, down 4% from 2012-13 (18,757).
  • The total number of clients starting treatment in 2013-14 was 14,143, down by 9% on 2012-13.
  • Of the 14,136 clients who started treatment (and had valid waiting times), the percentage that started within 20 working days increased from 73% in 2009-10 to 87% in 2013-14, continuing the trend of improvement over the 5-year period.
  • 84% (5,990) of clients with Alcohol as the main problematic substance were treated within 20 working days, whilst 92% (6,132) of clients with Drugs as the main problematic substance were treated within 20 working days.
  • The annual reports also include additional information from other routine data sources including hospital, mortality, education and crime data.


We have been notified of an error in the data submitted for the quarterly statistics “Substance Misuse, Wales January to March 2014”. Consequently we have withdrawn the most recent quarter’s statistics and postponed future publication of these statistics whilst we work with data partners to obtain correct data. We will announce a revised release date once we are content that the data is accurate. Annual statistics for 2013-14 are unaffected by this issue.

Summary tables from annual statistics are available on StatsWales.

We have consulted on the method of releasing these data. As a result, in the near future quarterly data will be published on StatsWales and a report published annually.


Tel: 029 2082 3134