Volatile substance misuse: a review of interventions: monograph series no. 65

8.4 Care for people with acquired brain injury (ABI)

Page last updated: 2008

Few options are available for long-term care of young people who have become severely disabled as a result of petrol sniffing or other forms of VSM, and their care generally falls to family members (Shaw et al., 2006). It is likely to be inappropriate to accommodate these people within short-stay residential treatment programs.

Shaw et al. (2006) propose that as the nature of VSM-associated disability varies considerably according to the severity of brain injury and the range of chemicals involved, care needs of individuals will vary widely. Care for people who continue to use volatile substances is particularly difficult. Community-based models for care of disabled young people include accommodation within aged care facilities (often considered a poor option), training local rehabilitation staff, and disability respite facilities (Shaw et al., 2006). A representative of the NPY Women's Council told the Senate Select Committee that her organisation had no option but to house one young person, disabled as a result of petrol sniffing, in a motel room in Alice Springs, paying $400 per day for a carer to look after him (Vicki Gillick cited in Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee, 2006). Shaw et al. argue that additional local services are urgently needed in communities with chronic petrol sniffers.

In urban areas it is more likely that people may be referred to services dealing specifically with ABI for assessment. Nonetheless, this group have poorer treatment outcomes than others with a history of VSM and many are likely to require long-term supported accommodation or residential care.