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What help is out there?
You’ve probably heard of detox and rehab but these aren’t the only options when young people are struggling with drugs or alcohol. There are heaps of ways for them to get help and support and different options suit different people. It is good to be prepared and aware of these so that you can best support a young person at the time when they want to access support.
- Self-Directed Help
- Centre-based Counselling and Support
- Outreach Support
- Short term residential support (withdrawal)
- Long Term residential support (rehabilitation)
- Home-based Withdrawal
- Day Programs
Please note: this information relates to the Victorian context
What do Youth AOD workers do?
If a young person does seek support from a drug and alcohol service, they may be linked in with a youth worker. Generally speaking, youth drug and alcohol workers will work to:
- Assist the young person to reduce their reliance on substances to cope
- Reduce the harms associated with a young person’s drug use
If the young person has a goal to stop or reduce using drugs, then the service will definitely work with them towards achieving this goal. To help a young person achieve goals such as this, a service may encourage support from family and friends or carers as well as helping a young person address other issues such as relationship, emotional stability and activities that may be having an impact on their drug and alcohol use.
It is also useful to understand that a lot of the time young people are very resistant to engaging with support and being insistent in these cases will often be detrimental. This kind of experience may create barriers to them accessing support in the future when they are ready.
Many young people are adverse to access support, not only for drug and alcohol needs but even general health concerns, because they feel like they will be judged or their information will not be kept private. Youth AOD workers understand that young people will engage and do better when they know that these things won’t happen. Effective drug and alcohol treatment is about building trusting relationships so they can (with time) feel free to open up and talk about their substance use in an honest and reflective way. Young people therefore guide with whom, when and how their information is shared, if at all. Understanding this approach is a good way to support the young person.
Part of the youth worker's job is also to make sure young people understand, when information they provide may be shared with others without their consent. This can happen in extreme instances where a young person is considering to harm themselves or others.
For young people who are involved with statutory organisation such as Child Protection, they often have multiple people in their lives telling them what to do or setting limits on their behaviours. Youth drug and alcohol workers can be a useful complement by offering a voluntary relationship for the young person in which they are the drivers of the when, where and what.
These are different and complementary roles, both valuable for healthy development. By working together, the young person has the ability to feel safe with boundaries in place but also have a secure base/relationship to explore the world from and take risks. Understanding that at the core of this is that the young person trusts their worker to share information and it won’t be fed directly to others involved. Check out Limit-setting for more information