Treatment

Volatile substance use (VSU) can be a passing phase for many young users. Most young people experiment with volatile substances a few times and then stop, often due to the unpleasant side effects. Only a small number go on to become regular or chronic users. Therefore, not all volatile substance users require treatment. In many cases diversionary activities such as recreational opportunities or skills development may be an appropriate response to meet the needs of these young people (National Inhalant Abuse Taskforce, 2006).

There are a range of factors to consider when choosing the most appropriate treatment response for a volatile substance user. As with any alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment, there is no single treatment approach that will suit all individuals who use volatile substances, so all treatment should be tailored to suit the individual’s specific needs. A further consideration is the availability of appropriate services based on location, age appropriateness, cultural and other needs.

In Australia, as elsewhere in the world, there are few dedicated treatment programs for volatile substance users (National Inhalant Abuse Taskforce, 2006). However, general AOD treatment programs and responses such as counselling, brief interventions and residential rehabilitation, can be applicable and suitable for volatile substance users also.

While best practice principles of effective AOD interventions apply equally to people who use volatile substances, the following considerations should be given when dealing with VSU:

  • the predominantly young age of users (most users are aged 12–16 years)
  • the low developmental age of many users
  • the cultural background of the user
  • many users are highly marginalised and may lack social skills
  • many inhalant users come from families who may not engage or participate in the treatment process
  • many users may be using inhalants in addition to or in combination with other drugs, for example, cannabis and alcohol
  • young people are often reluctant to access AOD treatment services
  • the need to avoid labelling young people as ‘drug users’
  • many users access treatment through the mental health or juvenile justice systems
  • many users have other health problems, such as mental health issues, that also require assessment and treatment.

(National Inhalant Abuse Taskforce, 2006)

For more information about treatment for VSU, see the following pages of this website:

List of related resources laid out in a table.
KEY RESOURCES YEAR ID #
document

A counsellors guide to working with alcohol and drug users

Marsh, A., Dale, A. & Willis, L. Drug and Alcohol Office, WA. Comprehensive alcohol and other drug  treatment manual. Explores the key skills needed to work at an individual level with people who have alcohol and other drug problems.

Tags VSU General | pdf 1.7 MB

2013 DAO-2
link

Consensus-based clinical practice guideline for the management of volatile substance use in Australia

Guidelines for health professionals to identify, assess and treat people who use volatile substances in metropolitan, rural and remote communities across Australia. Part of a series of resources (NHMRC-1a, NHMRC-1b, NHMRC-1). See Chapter 10 - Psychological Therapies (pp. 91-100).

Tags Treatment | Publication

2011 NHMRC-1vii
link

Consensus-based clinical practice guideline for the management of volatile substance use in Australia

Guidelines for health professionals to identify, assess and treat people who use volatile substances in metropolitan, rural and remote communities across Australia. Part of a series of resources (NHMRC-1a, NHMRC-1b, NHMRC-1). See Chapter 12 - Residential Rehabilitation (pp. 109-15).

Tags Treatment | Publication

2011 NHMRC-1viii
link

Volatile substance misuse: A review of interventions

d'Abbs, P. & MacLean, S., Department if Health and Ageing. Australian Government review examining literature about interventions designed to address volatile substance use. See Chapter 8 - Demand reduction III: Clinical management, counselling, residential and homeland programs (pp76-82).

Tags Treatment | Report

2008 DHA-1ii
link

National directions on inhalant abuse: Final report

Department of Human Services. Victoria. National Inhalant Abuse Taskforce. Considers existing initiatives, programs and strategies to address inhalant abuse in Australia and makes recommendations for a national response to inhalant abuse. See Chapter 5 - Treatment (pp 41-50) which provides a discussion of treatment issues, including elements of effective treatment, residential rehabilitation, mandated treatment and skills training for workers.

Tags Treatment | Report

2005 DHSV-3i

See other Treatment-related resources from the Resource Library of this website.