While drug specialists may provide useful consultancy and possibly assessment services,
they are generally not well placed to manage drug-related problems of those with
intellectual disability. Staff are not particularly sensitive to the needs of those
with intellectual disability, nor are they trained in the sorts of therapies which are
likely to be most beneficial. However, they may be useful in providing
detoxification services and supporting staff in dealing with minor drug use issues.
Most treatments which are applied to other problem or life skills areas (including
mental ill health) can be applied to dealing with drug use issues. In particular,
behaviour management principles, social skills training and activity therapy can all be
modified to deal with drug use. In addition, cognitive therapy has recently been
used with those with mild mental disability to recognise high risk situations and to
develop alternative solutions. General supportive counselling may also help through
listening and understanding.
Social supports are also a key concern. Family and friends can either help or
hinder management of drug use issues. For example, It may sometimes be more
productive to find a non-drug using mentor than to work directly with the drug user.
Harm reduction is a strategy which aims to reduce the harm associated with drug use,
without necessarily reducing the amount of drugs used.
The task with this population is exactly as it is with the general population: provide
strategies which minimise harm without necessarily condoning drug use.
likely harm of those with intellectual disability associated with drug use is accidents
while intoxicated on alcohol or other substances.