The role of an Aboriginal women's group in meeting the high needs of clients attending outpatient alcohol and other drug treatment

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Drug and Alcohol Review, 2013, 32 (6), pp. 618 - 626
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Introduction and Aims: Support groups are typically offered as part of specialist alcohol or other drug treatment. However, their usefulness with Indigenous Australians has not been examined. This paper provides a profile of Aboriginal women attending an inner city outpatient alcohol and other drug treatment service, insight into how effective women and staff perceive the support group to be at meeting their needs and suggestions for improvements. Design and Methods: Structured interviews were conducted with 24 Aboriginal female clients of an outpatient treatment service and with 21 staff from across that service and the local Aboriginal Medical Service. Client interviews also assessed alcohol consumption and mental health risk (Indigenous Risk Impact Screen). Results: Clients reported social and health indicators illustrating disadvantage and complex needs. Most clients and staff perceived the group to be useful and easily accessible. The participants discussed positive elements including opportunities for shared experience in a non-judgemental environment, practical support and health education. Staff reported how the safe, relaxed environment of the group helped with early identification of issues and user-friendly pathways for treatment access. Suggested improvements included greater involvement from Aboriginal staff and community members and enhanced communication with other staff. Discussion and Conclusions: Clients and staff recognised the usefulness of the group, including the opportunities it provided for socialisation and early intervention. Comprehensive research is needed to determine the types and sources of support that best assist Aboriginal women with substance use disorders. © 2013 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.
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