Community-based drug and alcohol counselling: who attends and why?

Authors

  • ANTHONY P. SHAKESHAFT,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of NSW, Australia and Research Fellow, National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia
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      Anthony P. Shakeshaft PhD, Senior Researcher, National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of NSW, Australia and Research Fellow, National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia

  • JENNY A. BOWMAN,

    1. Discipline of Psychology, School of Behavioural Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
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      Jenny A. Bowman PhD, Senior Lecturer, Discipline of Psychology, School of Behavioural Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

  • ROB W. SANSON-FISHER

    1. Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
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      Rob W. Sanson-Fisher PhD, Professor of Health Behaviour, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.


National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of NSW, Sydney, 2052, Australia. E-mail: a.shakeshaft@unsw.edu.au

Abstract

In order to develop and tailor treatment approaches in drug and alcohol counselling accurately, it is necessary to identify characteristics of the relevant client group. This study describes the demographic and substance use characteristics of 1212 community-based drug and alcohol counselling clients from a regional Area Health Service in NSW, Australia. Findings identify these clients as predominantly young, unmarried, unemployed males with low incomes. Alcohol use is characterized by binge consumption (83%) and alcohol-related problems (94%). A substantial proportion use tobacco (74%), cannabis (61%), opiates (15%) and amphetamines (22%). Of those using illicit drugs other than marijuana, the incidence of sharing syringes (10%) is of concern. These data differ from those reported by both general practice patients in the same geographical area, as a treatment-seeking population in an alternative community-based setting, and a general community sample. It is argued that there is a need for interventions delivered in community-based drug and alcohol settings that are aimed specifically at polydrug use, attempt to minimize drug-related harm and are relevant to those of lower socio-economic status.

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