Fresh Start

Statistics, Research and FAQs

1 in 20 Australians are currently struggling with a substance use disorder or addiction.

Only 1 in 4 of those people will seek help.

The four main reasons people don’t seek help are:

  • cost
  • waiting times for treatment
  • lack of knowledge about how and where to find help
  • stigma

Most common Drug of Concern ranked (when people seek treatment at rehabilitation and recovery programs)

  1. Alcohol
  2. Methamphetamines
  3. Cannabis
  4. Illicit Opioids

Highest to lowest substance use in Australia for 14+ years old

  1. Alcohol 77%
  2. Cannabis 11.6%
  3. Nicotine/Cigarettes 11%
  4. Misused Prescription Opioids 3.3%
  5. Methamphetamines 1.3%
  6. Psychoactive Substances 0.2%
  7. Illicit Opioid 0.1%



Changes in hospital outpatient events and costs following implant naltrexone treatment for problematic alcohol use https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0269881114536791

Main finding: Costs associated with hospital and emergency department admissions post-treatment were significantly reduced compared to pre-treatment.


A retrospective assessment of the use of naltrexone implants for the treatment of problematic amphetamine use https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1521-0391.2013.00320.x

Main finding: Treatment was associated with abstinence from amphetamines for at least one month in 65.9% of participants. 48.3% reported abstinence at six months.

Anxiety and Benzodiazepine Withdrawal

Long-Term Management of Generalised Anxiety Disorder with Low-Dose Continuous Infusions of Flumazenil: A Case Series https://www.mdpi.com/2076-328X/12/11/430/htm

Main finding: In eight cases of generalised anxiety disorder, flumazenil was safe and all patients responded to treatment; however, most cases required multiple infusions in a six-month period.

Is the Precipitation of Anxiety Symptoms Associated with Bolus Doses of Flumazenil a Barrier to Its Use at Low Continuous Doses in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal?https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/11/19/5948/htm

Main finding: there is no evidence that flumazenil causes anxiety during benzodiazepine withdrawal and may work to alleviate anxiety during and after treatment.

A double-blind randomised crossover trial of low-dose flumazenil for benzodiazepine withdrawal: A proof of concept https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871622002381

Main finding: Diazepam use in high-dose benzodiazepine users was significantly reduced during the flumazenil infusion compared to placebo.

Outcomes of patients treated with low-dose flumazenil for benzodiazepine detoxification: A description of 26 participants https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037687162200254X

Main finding: Abstinence rate from benzodiazepines at three months was between 46.2% and 61.5%.

Pharmacological uses of flumazenil in benzodiazepine use disorders: A systematic review of limited data https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0269881120981390

Main finding: The treatment is promising for benzodiazepine withdrawal; however, more randomised control trials are required before a definitive recommendation can be made around its use.

A theory of the anxiolytic action of flumazenil in anxiety disorders https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/02698811221082466

Main finding: Chronic stress may lead to dysfunction of a4β2δ GABAA receptors, which are implicated in anxiety. Treatment with flumazenil may reset these receptors and have an anti-anxiety effect.

The role of flumazenil in the treatment of benzodiazepine dependence: physiological and psychological profiles https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881108100322

Main finding: treatment appears to be safe and effective, resulting in lesser severity of withdrawal symptoms than other cessation methods currently available.


Hospital psychiatric comorbidity and its role in heroin dependence treatment outcomes using naltrexone implant or methadone maintenance
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A comparison of rapid (opioid) detoxification with clonidine-assisted detoxification for heroin-dependent persons
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Sustained-release naltrexone; novel treatment for opioid dependence
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A retrospective cohort study of mortality Rates in patients with an opioid use disorder treated with implant naltrexone oral methadone or sublingual buprenorphine
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Self-injuring behaviour and Mental Illness In Opioid-Dependent Patients Treated With Implant Naltrexone Methadone and Buprenorphine in Western Australia
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Fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose in Opioid dependent patients
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Naltrexone: A review of existing sustained drug delivery systems and emerging nano-based systems
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Improving clinical outcomes in treated heroin dependence: Randomised, control trial of oral or implant naltrexone https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/210360

Main finding: Sustained release treatment reduced relapse to regular opioid use compared to the oral preparation and was not associated with any major adverse events.

Blood naltrexone and 6-β-naltrexol levels following naltrexone implant: comparing two naltrexone implants https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13556210410001674103

Main finding: One of the preparations was able to provide therapeutic levels of the drug for 6.3 months compared to only 3 months.

Other Research

The role of flumazenil in generalised anxiety disorder: a pilot naturalistic open-label study with a focus on treatment resistance
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Hyperbolic dose reduction of escitalopram mitigates withdrawal syndrome: A case report https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2773021222000098

Main finding: In this case study, a patient who was sensitive to withdrawal from “antidepressants” did not experience a withdrawal syndrome when reducing their dose in a different way to usual dose reduction strategies.

Research In Progress

We are currently working on writing and publishing several articles related to benzodiazepine withdrawal and anxiety. A brief description of these is below:

  1. Data from a series of participants receiving treatment for generalised anxiety disorder, some with treatment resistance, and the short-term outcomes up to one-month (submitted for publication)