Thousands more Australians struggling with addiction would have access to telephone and online counselling services under a federal Labor government.
But politicians of all persuasions are being urged to do more to help half a million people missing out on the treatment they need to overcome drug use disorders.
Two days out from the election, the opposition says it would spend $13.5 million on ramping up the phone and online services offered by addiction treatment centre Turning Point.
That would include extending a phone program currently funded by the Victorian government to the rest of the nation, with 20,000 people ultimately set to benefit.
Labor health spokeswoman Catherine King says addictions to alcohol, other drugs and gambling are a real issue in communities Australia-wide.
"The expansion of online and telephone counselling services is particularly important for regional and rural Australians - who have less direct access to face-to-face support," she said on Thursday.
The commitment comes as the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs, which represents people working in the drugs field, is urging the next parliament to ramp up funds for treatment services.
Fewer than half of the people who need, would use or would benefit from such treatment are currently unable to access it, the organisation's vice-president Michael Farrell says.
That is estimated to be up to 500,000 people, according to drug policy modelling.
"This is an indefensible situation that would not be tolerated for any other chronic, debilitating health condition that affects so many people from all walks and stages of life, in every electorate," he said.
The stigma around illicit drugs and the political focus on law-and-order measures means drug disorders are often not acknowledged as the health issue they are, Prof Farrell argues.
But research shows that treatment for drug disorders is as effective as it is for comparable chronic health conditions, such as diabetes.
It has also been shown to be good value for money, returning $7 for every $1 invested, by benefiting not only the individual being treated but their family, employer and wider community.
"We should no longer tolerate the huge under-investment in specialist alcohol and other drugs treatment services that has created this current situation."
The APSAD has written to all current federal MPs and senators to press its case ahead of Saturday's poll.
Labor argues alcohol and other drug treatment services haven't kept pace with demand since federal funding for them was indexed under the coalition.
But asked about the issue on Thursday, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Greg Hunt highlighted the coalition plans to spend $720 million over four years to reduce the impact of alcohol and other drug misuse.
It's also putting $450 million towards a national ice action strategy and $4.3 million towards local support for communities affected by ice use.
Another $22.3 million is being spent alcohol and other drug treatment services in rural and remote areas, while $7.2 million is going towards making a drug that reverses opioid overdoses more available.
Australian Associated Press