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Keywords:

  • abstinence;
  • alcohol;
  • drugs;
  • indigenous;
  • relapse;
  • substance misuse

Abstract

This paper presents results from a study investigating relapse prevention options for indigenous clients of alcohol and drug intervention services. The study has 63 ‘stories’ collected through a survey of nine substance misuse services. An adapted version of the Marlatt Relapse Prevention Model was developed to interview clients who had quit drinking but later relapsed into heavy use. The study identified situations influencing the decision to quit, obstacles and dilemmas arising during periods of abstinence, and major triggers associated with relapse into substance misuse. The paper analyses these major triggers and discusses the crucial issues of motivation to quit and maintenance of abstinence. The community environments where indigenous drinkers use alcohol strongly influence successful or unsuccessful attempts to quit. Relapse prevention should be part of a range of public health strategies for tackling substance misuse problems with Indigenous drinkers, and should be included at the minimal intervention level.