AOD information surveys

The Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) produces information and resources to help prevent and reduce alcohol and other drug (AOD) related harm in the community.

For this material to be effective it has to meet the needs of the people who are seeking AOD information.

We set out to better understand these needs by developing two Australia-wide Information and Support Service Survey Reports looking at the availability and helpfulness of AOD information, and the experiences of people looking for information, support or treatment.

Survey 1: Information Services Survey

This survey was targeted at a wide audience of people who were seeking AOD information, including:

  • people who regularly use AOD
  • people who are concerned about a friend or family member’s AOD use
  • people in an influential role who want to support positive change in their local community.

The results of this survey showed:

  • Community members and influencers had good knowledge of AOD and the related harms, but struggled with topics around supporting or talking to someone about their AOD use.
  • Google and AOD-focused websites were the most common ways people found information, but more would like personalised information from professional sources such as GPs, mental health professionals, helplines, and online chats.
  • Stigma, in the form of feeling judged or disapproved of by others, was most commonly experienced for alcohol use, followed by illegal drugs and prescription drugs.
  • Of the community members in the survey who used AOD regularly, very few wanted support or treatment for their use. Those who did often didn’t access it, however, due to concerns around privacy and worries around being judged/stigmatised.
  • Family and friends were the two most common sources of stigma for people who use alcohol and other drugs.1

Survey 2: Information and Support Services for Family and Friends

This survey focused on people concerned about the alcohol and drug use of a family member or friend.

The key findings were:

  • A large number of people hadn’t sought help in relation to their loved one experiencing an AOD issue, and some had no intention of seeking help at all. This was mainly due to fear of stigma, not knowing who to approach for help and not knowing how to ask for help.
  • GPs were considered the most helpful source of information or support while other useful sources included social media, mental health websites and mental health professionals.
  • Respondents were keen to know more about:
  • talking to their loved one about their substance use
  • how to manage conflict
  • setting boundaries
  • gaining information
  • providing their loved one with support.
  • Finding help for themselves to manage their own mental health was also identified as important.2

The results of the survey also showed 34% of people were worried about a friend, rather than a family member, demonstrating a need to provide information to this group.2

Why is this data important?

Helping individuals and their families access quality AOD information can help reduce harm.

It can increase people’s knowledge of harm reduction strategies, the impacts of stigma and increase access to help and support.

For friends and family, it can help them support a loved one experiencing AOD issues and have potentially difficult conversations.

Survey data also tells us what alcohol and other drug organisations can focus on, such as:

  • connecting people with targeted AOD information, like having conversations about alcohol and drug use with a loved one or helping someone they are concerned about
  • addressing the barriers people experience when seeking help for themselves and others by talking about stigma
  • focusing on improving people’s access to personalised AOD information, and upskilling health professionals to deliver this information.

You can read both survey reports in more detail below:

  1. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Alcohol and other drugs information: survey report. Melbourne: ADF; 2022.
  2. Alcohol and Drug Foundation. Family and friends of people with substance use issues: survey report. Melbourne: ADF; 2022.