Effectiveness bank home page. Opens new window Hot topics

Below is a list of all 43 hot topics – essays by Drug and Alcohol Findings explaining the background and evidence relating to topics which sometimes prompt heated debate. They are a popular way to get up to speed on the issues which matter in drug and alcohol policy and practice in Britain, and often too internationally. Starting with the most recently added or updated hot topics, the list shows in orange the type of entry, year the original document was published (or if one of our own documents, the year last updated), and the type of file you will download when you click on the title. In blue is the document’s title followed by a brief description.

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HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Time for safer injecting spaces in Britain?

Drug consumption rooms are a particularly contentious form of harm reduction, viewed on one hand as a practical, humane, life-saving approach to dangerous drug use, and on the other, as an endorsement of drugtaking and a dereliction of the duty to treat dependent drug users.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Are the drugs enough? Counselling and therapy in substitute prescribing programmes

Explore the somewhat heretical proposition that the counsellor can virtually be dispensed with in opiate substitute prescribing programmes with little loss of impact. The gain would be that methadone could be spread ‘thin and wide’, reaching more potential patients.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Can testing and sanctions displace addiction treatment?

Gaining influential support is the proposition that for problem substance users over whom leverage can be exerted, we can largely do away with treatment and just test for substance use and punish infringements. Is this really the way forward?

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
‘Recovery’: meaning and implications for treatment

Since 2008 the “recovery” objective has been at the heart of British drug treatment policy. Where did it come from and what does it mean for treatment services?

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Treatment staff matter

By focusing on the intervention as if it were a mechanical lever, research has not just ignored but sought to eliminate what now seems a more important factor – the influence of the practitioner and how they relate to the patient.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Motivational interviewing: fast and flexible counselling style

Introduces and evaluates the most influential approach in substance use counselling in Britain – one perhaps as widely misunderstood as it is practised. Great advantage is applicability to substance users from the risky to the dependent.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
The complexity and challenge of ‘dual diagnosis’

Whether to focus on mental illness or problem substance use when the patient exhibits both is long-standing conundrum which still puzzles today’s treatment services. Arising with as many as three-quarters of the drug treatment caseload, deciding how to respond is a is a major issue.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
The therapeutic potential of patients and clients

The recovery agenda emphasises the transformation of problem substance users into solutions to those problems through peer support and involvement in their own care – but perhaps at a deeper level, the patient or client has always been the author of their own recovery.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
‘Everyone’s not doing it’ message offers hope for prevention

‘Normative education’ comparing the recipient’s use levels to population norms retains some of its shine as the great hope for school- and college-based prevention, but accumulating data demands a reappraisal.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Harm reduction: what’s it for?

Opposing agendas have led to a shifting balance between seeing harm-reduction as acceptable only in the service of the greater good of reducing or eliminating drug use, versus seeing it as the overriding objective, one which should never be sacrificed to an anti-drugs agenda.


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