Young people who attend specialist alcohol treatment: who are they and do they need special treatment?
Article first published online: 6 AUG 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2008 Public Health Association of Australia
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 32, Issue 4, pages 336–340, August 2008
How to Cite
Indig, D., Copeland, J. and Conigrave, K. M. (2008), Young people who attend specialist alcohol treatment: who are they and do they need special treatment?. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 32: 336–340. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2008.00251.x
- Issue published online: 6 AUG 2008
- Article first published online: 6 AUG 2008
- Submitted: October 2007 Revision Requested: April 2008 Accepted: May 2008
Objective: Patterns of drinking in adolescence and young adulthood may have major short term impacts and influences on later drinking, yet little is known about the characteristics of young people who seek help for alcohol problems. Here we examine the characteristics of treatment episodes for adolescents and young adults who present to specialist alcohol treatment in New South Wales (NSW).
Methods: The NSW Minimum Data Set for Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Services was examined for all alcohol-related treatment episodes (N=21,012) reported between July 2004 and June 2005. We compared treatment episodes for adolescents aged 12-19 years, young adults aged 20-29 years and clients aged 30 years or more for their demographics, drug use and service delivery characteristics.
Results: Clients aged under 30 years were significantly more likely to be referred into specialist treatment by a police, court or criminal justice diversion program compared with older clients (adolescent: OR=3.7, 95%CI: 3.1-4.4; young adult: OR=2.2, 95%CI: 1.9-2.4). Concern about cannabis use was significantly higher among younger clients (adolescents: OR=2.8 95%CI: 2.3-3.3; young adults: OR=2.1, 95%CI: 2.0-2.4) than those aged 30 years or more. Younger clients were also more likely to be of Indigenous origin or seen in a rural setting.
Conclusions: Adolescent and young adult alcohol treatment clients include a higher proportion of clients who are Indigenous, legally coerced, and who have concerns with polydrug use. Service providers should seek to tailor their treatment programs to better meet these unique needs and to better attract young people into voluntary treatment.