Evaluation of ACON’s Substance Support Service

Past project

Supporting best practice for sexual and gender minority AOD clients

ACON’s Substance Support Service provides individual, outpatient counselling to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people experiencing problems with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use. The service is one of few AOD services in Australia that is specifically designed for LGBTI people.

This evaluation examined the impact of the service on clients’ substance use and psychosocial wellbeing, and whether clients of the service reported different treatment outcomes to clients attending mainstream services that are not specifically tailored to LGBTI people. The evaluation also included in-depth interviews with clients, staff and key stakeholders to explore experiences of treatment, perspectives on the benefits and limitations of the service, and how service delivery could be improved. The findings showed that clients of ACON's service reported significant reductions in the use of principal drugs of concern, improvements in quality of life and reductions in psychological distress. It was not possible to compare ACON clients with LGBTI clients from mainstream services, due to the absence of data on gender and sexuality at mainstream services. Interviewees generally appreciated the quality of the ACON services, but recommended a number of improvements, including increasing the visibility of the service and improving referral pathways.

NSW Health


  • Sarah Lambert
  • James Gray
  • Johann Kolstee 



  • Robert Stirling
  • Suzie Hudson 
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