Bridges Drugs & Alcohol Treatment Service (DATS) is a community-based voluntary service for people 12 years of age and over who wish to address the problems they are having with drugs and alcohol.

How do I get help?

Before we can make an appointment for you to see an accredited Drug & Alcohol Clinician, we require a referral. The referral can come from another service provider or you can refer yourself.  Please phone us if you require assistance with this process.

We assess all referrals at a weekly intake meeting to ensure a best match between client and clinician and to manage caseloads. It is the clinician’s responsibility to contact the client for a first appointment. Our staff can provide counselling via video-conference link for clients who have access to a computer with a web-cam and basic computer skills.

What happens at the first appointment?

Our first step in the treatment process is to undertake a comprehensive assessment. The assessment gathers information about the types and amount of drugs or alcohol you use, the impacts that they are having on your life and other factors that may require addressing for example mental health issues, accommodation, relationships, legal issues and the like.

The assessment also helps your clinician identify how motivated you are to making changes in your drug or alcohol use.

Based on your motivation and the information provided through the assessment, your clinician will recommend the most appropriate treatment.

Treatment does not necessarily focus on abstinence and our priority is to reduce the harm that drugs or alcohol are having on your physical and mental health, lifestyle and relationships.

We recognise that not all clients are motivated to change and if so, your clinician can provide information to help reduce the risks that drug or alcohol misuse may have in the short or long-term. We also recognise that people’s circumstances change and we want our clients to feel welcome to return at any time for further help in abstaining from or managing their drug or alcohol use.

What’s next?

If you agree to enter treatment, you and your clinician will develop a treatment plan. The aim of the plan is to identify what changes you want to achieve, the actions that you need to take to make those changes possible, and the timeframes for achieving those changes.

Your clinician will base your treatment on the goals in your treatment plan. Treatments may (but not necessarily) include:

  • Medically assisted detoxification – some people with long-standing and heavy drug or alcohol use will require medical supervision if they wish to withdraw. Some clients will be able to withdraw at home in partnership with their local GP and other clients may need to undergo a five-day hospital-based withdrawal – usually in Brisbane. Your clinician will help make any arrangements and be there to support you on discharge.
  • Counselling – the aims of counselling are to engage clients in the treatment process, modify drug-related attitudes and behaviours and increase healthy life skills. Your clinician will typically use psychological interventions such as:
    • Motivational interviewing – to increase and maintain your motivation to change your drug or alcohol use and make lifestyle adjustments;
    • Cognitive behavioural therapy – to help you recognise the consequences of your drug or alcohol use, avoid situations that prompt you to misuse, cope with cravings and lifestyle changes and prevent relapse. Techniques used by your clinician may include keeping a diary, questioning the behaviours, assumptions and beliefs that may be unhelpful to you and trying out new ways of behaving and reacting.
    • Resistance training to prevent relapse.
  • Case Management – to address day-to-day concerns such as legal issues, housing, financial management, relationships, employment etc. With your consent, your clinician may refer you to other organisations that specialise in these aspects of support.

Research shows that these treatments are effective in reducing or stopping substance misuse and returning you to productive functioning in your family, workplace and community.  They work by counteracting the powerful disruptive effects that substance misuse has on your brain and behaviour, and helping you regain control of your life.

People progress through treatment at their own rate and at Bridges there is no pre-determined length of treatment. However, research shows that good outcomes are generally achieved when treatment is of at least three months duration and that the longer the treatment, the more positive and long-lasting the outcome.

At Bridges, we review all client’s progress at least every six months or sooner, to ensure the treatments we are providing are effective and to investigate alternatives if necessary.


Substance misuse is a chronic condition and like other chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension, relapse may occur. This does not mean that your treatment has failed.

Relapse indicates that treatment needs to be reinstated or adjusted and you should contact Bridges again for advice.