Keeping Connected: strategies for maintaining engagement in counselling for alcohol and other drugs


Psychosocial treatment can be effective for people that use alcohol and other drugs, however rates of engagement are often low and dropout from treatment is common. This project explores ways to increase accessibility of treatment and engagement in this group. The project includes two published literature reviews relating to: the use of technology-mediated psychosocial interventions in people using methamphetamine, and low-cost strategies for increasing treatment retention for people using any kind of substance. Semi-structured qualitative interviews have also been conducted with 15 clinicians working in the alcohol and other drugs sector, with a qualitative publication to come. These interviews explored retention strategies currently used by clinicians and their views on novel, low-cost retention strategies. These findings have been integrated into a checklist of low-cost engagement strategies for clinicians.

Project team

Turning Point team

Dr Adam Rubenis, Associate Professor Shalini Arunogiri, Jennifer Nation

Project partners

Professor Amanda Baker (University of New South Wales), Elizabeth Katz (Towson University)

Our funder

National Centre for Clinical Research in Emerging Drugs (NCCRED)

Learn more about the project

Findings from literature reviews and interviews with clinicians have shaped the development of a checklist of low-cost retention strategies (the Maximising Engagement and Retention Checklist).

This checklist includes three categories: ‘role induction and information about recovery’, ‘collaboration and agreement between client and clinician’, and ‘ongoing engagement, reinforcement and support after termination’.

The checklist was developed using an iterative process, seeking feedback from experts, clinicians and consumers and is currently undergoing pilot testing and is available for download here.


Rubenis, A. J., Baker, A. L., Arunogiri, S. (2021). Methamphetamine use and technology-mediated psychosocial interventions: A mini-review. Addictive Behaviors, Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.106881

Rubenis, A. J., Nation, J. A., Katz, E. C., & Arunogiri, S. (2022). Increasing Attendance in Addiction Treatment With Limited Resources: A Narrative Review. Journal of Addiction Medicine, 10-1097.