Resource landscapes for young people

leaving residential drug and alcohol services

Yellow tiles on a wall

We seek to understand the resourcing opportunities of young people after exiting residential alcohol and drug (AOD) treatment, so to understand how resources are arranged and aligned in ways that maximise positive outcomes in young people’s substance use. We take a sociological approach to conceptualise ‘resources’ as those available through institutional systems, such as social, health and criminal justice services, and those accessible through personal networks and settings such as through bonds with family and peers, access to identities of worthiness, and ‘attitudes’ that reflect positive representations of self and future. The project provides innovative and detailed evidence about the resourcing needs of young people, informing the development of better models of care, reducing disparity and increasing the relevance of services to young people.

Our approach and method

The research conceptualises young people’s AOD treatment trajectories as socially produced sets of opportunities, not as individually authored journeys. This sociological approach represents a departure from existing AOD treatment research, which is dominated by epidemiologically and psychologically-informed studies that focus on young people’s deficits – their problems, ‘risky’ behaviours and disadvantages - and fail to take sufficient account of the profoundly social nature of substance use. We draw on longitudinal in-depth interviews with 38 young people in NSW and Victoria, who were interviewed at treatment exit and then again at six and twelve months.