Effectiveness bank home page. Opens new window Hot topics

Below is a list of all 44 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 2018 HTM file
Measuring alcohol-related harm; politics and science

At a national level, alcohol-related harm and especially the net cost of harm versus benefits are slippery concepts. Malleability and policy salience combine to make the estimates contested territory.

HOT TOPIC 2018 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
Ethics and evidence on naltrexone treatment of offenders

Opinion is sharply divided on the ethics and effectiveness of pressuring opioid-dependent offenders to take the opiate-blocker naltrexone. Especially sharp is the controversy over long-acting products not approved for medical practice in the UK. Do they constitute an unacceptable infringement of autonomy, or is forcing them on some offenders as caring as holding back someone about to (by choice or not) walk off a cliff?

HOT TOPIC 2018 HTM file
A minimum price for drink?

Politics and evidence relating to the most important and controversial public health issue of recent times – eliminating the cheap drink heavy drinkers rely on by setting a high minimum per unit price for alcohol. Scotland has done it and other UK nations are following suit – but not yet England.

HOT TOPIC 2018 HTM file
Cycle of Change: change promoter or benevolent fiction?

Its simplicity is beguiling, but does the ubiquitous cycle of change model simply describe the change process, or help predict and accelerate it?

HOT TOPIC 2018 HTM file
Acupuncture: potential value of a ‘theatrical placebo’

Asks whether acupuncture helps treat substance use problems and, if it does, whether this is ‘just’ a placebo effect. Is there something valuable here which has not yet been proven to work, or is trying to find proof a dead end?

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.

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
Focus on the families

Both as a treatment resource for the patient and a group needing support in their own right, a UK report described families affected by substance use as the “forgotten” carers. Here we turn the focus on the “unheard and unseen victims when a loved one uses drugs or alcohol”.

HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
Does it matter if ‘addiction is a brain disease’

Dismissed as a chimera leading down expensive blind alleys or hailed as a scientific breakthrough and vindication for ‘sufferers’, the brain-disease model of addiction has been attracting research dollars and high-level support. True or false or somewhere in between, it has important implications for treatment.


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