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. Sorted by the main topic addressed, 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 2017 HTM file
Overdose deaths in the UK: crisis and response

Why did the fall in UK drug overdose deaths in 2009 to 2012 so decisively reverse in the following years? A life-threatening turn away from harm reduction, or simply an ageing population of heroin users?

HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
Overdose antidote naloxone takes harm-reduction centre stage

National programmes distributing the opiate overdose antidote naloxone have become the great hope for curbing the rise in overdose deaths, but England is lagging behind the rest of the UK – and planning for the likelihood not of recovery but relapse may for some services and patients be hard to accept.

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.

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 2015 HTM file
Prescribing opiate-type drugs to opiate addicts: good sense or nonsense?

For decades deeply felt and at times intemperate debate has surrounded a treatment which achieves unparalleled success by going with the grain of addiction, prescribing the same type of drug which opiate-dependent patients used illegally – a substitution castigated as surrender or hailed as an enlightened lifesaver.

HOT TOPIC 2016 HTM file
Opiate-blocking implants: magic bullet or dangerous experiment?

Opinion is sharply divided on the ethics and effectiveness of long-acting implanted or injected opiate-blocking medications, products not approved for medical practice in the UK, but which some see as a major breakthroughs in overcoming addiction to heroin and allied drugs.

HOT TOPIC 2018 HTM file
Computerised therapies: sacrificing effectiveness for wider access?

Among culturally accepted vehicles for delivering substance use interventions, computers, mobile phones and tablets are joining face-to-face work. Are we sacrificing effectiveness for convenience and economy?

HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
‘My GP says I drink too much’: screening and brief intervention

In the absence of more or less inescapable impediments to heavy drinking like ramping up the price of cheap alcohol, widespread screening and brief advice have been the great hope for drink-related public health improvements. Patchy effectiveness and poor implementation have led that ambition to be questioned.

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 2018 HTM file
Can 12-step mutual aid bridge recovery resources deficit?

Can mutual aid groups based on AA’s 12 steps help bridge the gap between heightened ambition for recovery from addiction and diminished public resources. That largely depends on whether the worldwide popularity of the steps is matched by evidence of effectiveness.


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