The number of Victorians waiting for drug and alcohol treatment has increased by more than 70 per cent since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Two reports released by the Pandemic Declaration Accountability and Oversight Committee reveal the number of people waiting for treatment had increased from 2385 to 4088.
The Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA) has recommended the state government immediately expand drug and alcohol treatment services in the state.
Alcohol and drug use has increased in the south-west during the pandemic, dual diagnosis clinician Rebecca Smith revealed.
She said there was a huge need for a residential rehabiliation facility in the region.
WRAD director Geoff Soma said the organisation was continuing to lobby for funding for The Lookout.
"Urgent support is needed for clients with substance issues and mental health who struggle to find the help that they need," he said. "A continuum of services is required and currently this region is without the residential rehabilitation service component.
"The whole community will benefit from this service and clients will get the support and treatment that they deserve close to their family and friends and on country for Aboriginal people."
VAADA executive officer Sam Biondo said the pandemic had driven an increasing number of people towards treatment, many who had not previously engaged and others experiencing relapse.
"The transaction cost of an under resourced AOD treatment sector is greater levels of preventable ill health, fatal overdose and the further burdening of our stretched health systems," Mr Biondo said.
'We strongly recommend that the government adopt these recommendations to address the surging AOD harms which have occurred during the pandemic."
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