Physical Health

Why we ask about physical health

Physical health is often interconnected with drug and alcohol use, whether cause or effect. We may use substances to help alleviate pain, anxiety or discomfort. We may have severe withdrawal symptoms including panic attacks and even seizures. Addiction can make us walk for miles on little and poor nutrition, running the body down, and leaving it open to infection and disease. Becoming homeless further undermines this.

Sometimes taking substances can result in more serious illnesses such as hepatitis C/HIV, and long-term damage to the nervous system, poor memory, liver disease, and heart or stomach disease.

Our first aim should be to do no harm, by identifying whether there is an allergy, a need for regular medication, or medical review. We should then attempt to prevent further harm, by identifying unfilled health needs, and supporting improvements where possible.

The Key Worker/Case Manager role is to ensure that Service Users who are not in contact with a primary health care team, or are underutilising health services, are put in touch with the relevant services and are able to access medical treatment when required. If a Case Manager has particular concerns about a Service User’s medical condition, as a first step, they should help the person to contact their GP or public health nurse, or they should contact the emergency health services.

Key Goals

  1. Identify any health related support needs
  2. Ensure that the individual has a medical card and is registered with a GP.
  3. Assist the Service User to access necessary health supports.
  4. Support the Service User to overcome any barriers to required supports.