Assessment and Schaeffer's modelIn the context of identifying a young person's needs it may be useful to reflect on Schaeffer's model which reminds us that not all young people's AOD use is inherently problematic. In our assessments with young people we need to be able to distinguish between different patterns of AOD use and intervene appropriately depending on the type of use identified.
- Experimental use – Drug use is motivated by curiosity or desire to experience new feelings or moods. This may occur alone or in the company of one or more friends who are also experimenting. It normally involves single or short-term use.
- Social/recreational use – Drugs are used on specific social occasions by experienced users who know what drug suits them and in what circumstances (e.g. ecstasy use by experienced users at dance parties, or alcohol with a meal).
- Circumstantial/situational use – Drugs are used when specific tasks have to be performed and special degrees of alertness, calm, endurance or freedom from pain are sought. (e.g. truck driving, shift work or studying for exams).
- Intensive use – This drug use is similar to the previous category, but more intensive. It is often related to an individual's need to achieve relief or to achieve a high level of performance. It can also involve binge AOD use, where there is excessive use of a substance at one time. The pattern of binge use may be occasional, or may relate to specific situations.
- Compulsive/dependent use – Drug use leads to psychological and physiological dependence where the user cannot at will discontinue use without experiencing significant mental or physical distress. Drug use is central to the user's day-today life.
Even though not all use is problematic, there may still be harms and consequences associated with any pattern of AOD use.
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Diagram: Schaeffer's model - patterns of drug use
Text version of DiagramSchaeffer's model:
- Experimental - single or short-term use
- Recreational/social - controlled use in social setting
- Situational - use for specific reason
- Intensive - high doses - binge
- Compulsive - frequent/daily doses withdrawalTop of page
Potential harms associated with Schaeffer's list
TaskQuestion - Under each of the five patterns of use identified by Schaeffer, list three potential harms associated with that use. (There may be some overlap between the types of use and associated harms.)
- Experimental – Lack of knowledge, experience and low tolerance could lead to accidental overdose or risk-taking behaviours.
- Recreational/social – Peer influences, tendency to get lost in the moment, excitement, using too much or uncertainty about the concentration of the drug could lead to accidental overdose or risk-taking behaviours)
- Situational/circumstantial – Not coping or using to cope could lead to risk behaviours, accidents etc.)
- Intensive – Accidents, overdose, legal/financial issues
- Compulsive/dependency – Health problems, relationship issues, legal/financial issues, accidents/overdose
BrainstormDiscuss the suggested harms with learners. Brainstorm any other responses.
Workplace learning/group activityQuestion - Provide two examples of patterns of drug use evident among the young people you work with. (Ensure confidentiality of young people is maintained and false names are provided.)
Ask learners to share these experiences with the group and identify and discuss the differences in these groups.