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Journal Article


Taggart L, McLaughlin D, Quinn B, McFarlane C. Health Soc. Care Community 2007; 15(4): 360-368.


(Copyright © 2007, John Wiley and Sons)






There is a dearth of research that has explored alcohol/drug use and misuse by people with intellectual disabilities. The aims of the present study were twofold: (1) to examine the insights of 10 people with intellectual disabilities into the reasons why they may misuse alcohol or drugs, and what impact this behaviour may have on them; and (2) to explore the services that they receive. Ten individuals with intellectual disabilities who were deemed to be misusing alcohol/drugs were purposively selected and interviewed. One overarching theme of the reasons for such misuse was labelled as ‘self-medicating against life's negative experiences’. This was divided into two sub-themes: ‘psychological trauma’ and ‘social distance from the community’. All the participants reported that their main source of support came from intellectual disability services, acting in both educational and liaison roles. Although seven of the individuals were referred to mainstream addiction services, they perceived this service as negative. In order to address these underlying problems, better access to a wider range of specialist services is required. Intellectual disability and mainstream addiction service providers also need to be more effective in the prevention and treatment of substance misuse by employing techniques such as motivational interviewing.


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