School of Population Health

Positive life pathways for vulnerable adolescents

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Young people (13-18 years) referred to residential alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment services are often at risk in a range of other health and psychosocial domains, including psychosocial distress, injury, self harm, suicide, homelessness and poverty. The Youth Pathways Study - an Australian Research Council (LP140100429) and Ted Noffs funded project has used mixed methods (linked data, surveys and interviews) to understand the experiences and outcomes among young people referred to the Ted Noffs Foundation residential AOD treatment programs. Many are referred from the Juvenile Justice system and over a third identify as Aboriginal.  The findings have identified many challenges for these young people in completing treatment and even when they successfully 'complete', there are successes, but also challenges for them in maintaining a positive life trajectory afterwards. The study findings point to the importance of looking at the strengths and sources of support these young people have and can build upon, and the role of the Ted Noffs programs, health, housing and social services in helping them establish their lives outside of treatment.

To find out more

Nathan S, Rawstorne P, Hayen A, Bryant J, Baldry E, Ferry M, Williams M, Shanahan M, Jayasinha R, Examining the pathways for young people with drug and alcohol dependence: A mixed-method design to examine the role of a treatment program, BMJ Open,  2016 Vol 6(5) BMJ Open Q1 (Medicine)

Key publications from the study to date

Nathan, S; Bethmont, A; Rawstorne, P; Ferry, M; Hayen, A. Trends in drug use among adolescents admitted to residential treatment in Australia, Medical Journal of Australia, 2016; 204 (4): 149-150 doi: 10.5694/mja15.01018.

Dixson, G., Woolfenden, S., Jayasinha, R., Rawstorne, P., Palmer, K. and Nathan, S. (2018), Characteristics of Australian adolescent females in residential treatment who report using methamphetamines. Drug Alcohol Rev., 37: S384-S393. doi:10.1111/dar.12641.

Nathan S, Hayen A, Rawstorne P, Jayasinha R. Address other life problems to get at-risk young people off methamphetamines. The Conversation, March 2016.

Foster M, Nathan S, Ferry M. The experience of drug-dependent adolescents in a therapeutic community, Drug and Alcohol Review, 29 (5), 531–539, 2010,