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Characteristics of methamphetamine users entering treatment in therapeutic communities

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image - 1314150283 John Howard
Dr John Howard
Conjoint Senior Lecturer
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Honorary Professor
Ph 02 9385 0231
Project Main Description: 

This project explores the characteristics of methamphetamine users entering treatment in therapeutic communities, and assesses the effectiveness of a specialist amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) intervention in therapeutic communities. This project was the basis for Lynne Magor-Blatch's doctoral thesis.

Project Collaborators: External: 

Lynne Magor-Blatch, PhD student


The major focus of the study is to ascertain whether there is a difference in outcomes between clients who undertake the treatment intervention in the therapeutic community setting and those who receive “treatment as usual”, rather than the intervention.

Design and Method: 

A quasi-experiment comparing process and outcomes of treatment for clients with ATS as a principal or secondary drug of concern in a TC setting receiving an additional focussed ATS intervention compared with treatment as usual.


Participants were interviewed and completed self-report questionnaires of psychosocial measures at entry to the study and at two follow-up points over 18 months. Results for both groups showed statistically significant and clinical improvement over baseline on a number of measures, however; there was no difference between groups. Overall, results showed reduced substance use and criminal offending, as well as improvement on a range of psychosocial measures, including mental and physical health, psychopathology and executive function. These findings provide evidence supporting the effectiveness of the group intervention. Aspects considered to be most beneficial include activities based on Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) and mindfulness. 

PhD Thesis:
Magor-Blatch, L. (2013) Intervention for amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) use in the therapeutic community, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales.
Lynne E. Magor-Blatch, Jenna L. Keen, Navjot Bhullar  (2013) Personality factors as predictors of programme completion of drug therapeutic communities, Mental Health and Substance Use, 7(2): 110-124, DOI: 10.1080/17523281.2013.806345 

Enhanced capacity of therapeutic communities and other residential and non-residential treatment, to address ATS use related harms.

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