Substance Abuse Needs Assessment

A Service Evaluation


  • Olwyn Lidster RMN, Dip, BSc (Hons) Specialist Practitioner, PGcert, PGDip Advance Nurse Practice,

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    • Olwyn Lidster, RMN, Dip, BSc (Hons) Specialist Practitioner, PGcert, PGDip Advance Nurse Practice, is a community psychiatric nurse in substance misuse. She is the lead for the service area in equality and diversity. She may be reached at

  • Violet M. P. Cannon

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    • Violet M. P. Cannon is Romany Gypsy. She has worked within the field of community development for over 13 years, striving to give a platform for unrecognized voices. Her area of expertise is Gypsy and Traveller rights. She may be contacted at


This article describes and reflects on a service evaluation of drug and alcohol provision for Gypsy and Traveller communities in a city in the north of England. Findings from the study are presented, along with findings from existing literature on engaging and supporting Gypsy and Traveller communities in accessing health care services. The article reports similarities between the current study and previous studies in regard to substance abuse problems in these communities and barriers to accessing services. Gypsy and Traveller perceptions of heath care provision are thematically analyzed, and recommendations for both future studies and service improvement are made based on these perceptions.

The findings from the study mirror results from existing studies regarding feelings of pride and shame being a barrier to accessing services as well as fear of discrimination. It is clear from the findings that some Gypsies and Travellers do have drug or alcohol problems, or both, in their communities and that they do not know where they can go for help. There were two overarching themes from the responses to all the questions asked: “shame” in admitting they had a problem and services not understanding their culture. Many suggested that people from their own community who understand them working in services would be helpful. The findings indicate issues that health care providers need to consider in preparing this population for effective, accessible substance abuse treatment.