Sex workers present a complex and unique footprint of needs and behaviour patterns. This is especially the case when those women also have drug and alcohol issues. Yet, when many of these women enter drug treatment system, their histories of sex work and the complex patterns of needs that such histories generate are often overlooked. This is not surprising. In comparison to dealing with the immediate needs subsequent to drug and alcohol issues, tackling the needs arising from sex work can seem less urgent. Drug treatment is a momentous process of change, but the background question to this research report is whether just dealing with the drug and alcohol issues is enough or whether it is also necessary for a woman who has sex-worked to create an ex-sex worker role, and what stands in the way of or promotes that?
The focus of this research is on sex workers and the residential drug rehabilitation – a setting wherein they are attempting to produce momentous change in their lives. I interviewed street sex workers, escorts and parlour workers. The aim was to contextualise the meanings sex workers placed on sharing their internal world with others and the powerful impact of disclosure of sex work in relation to their treatment.