Appreciations and analyses of seminal studies of lasting significance from the past starting with the analyses most recently added or updated, totalling today 38 documents. Dates in orange refer to publication date of the original study or (if several) of the earliest of the studies. For other seminal studies see those listed in the cells of the alcohol and drug treatment matrices
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DOCUMENT 1987 HTM file
High time for harm reduction
Impelled by the injecting-related AIDS crisis, Merseyside was where harm reduction in the UK first took root. From there in 1987 came this groundbreaking call for a turn away from what was seen as a failed attempt to prevent use to mitigating the harm. Expressed modestly as a “prudent” suggestion, with Russell Newcombe’s essay, “harm reduction” had come of age.
The unexpected resignations of two counsellors at a US methadone clinic in early 1985 triggered a unique study of the influence of counsellors on their patients’ recovery. Its insight remains relevant today, and the study has been added to the Effectiveness Bank as a piece of ‘old gold’.
STUDY 1966 HTM file
Treatment of skid-row alcoholics with disulfiram
In the early ’60s in Atlanta in the USA, a pioneering trial tested whether faced with the alternative of another spell in jail, ‘skid-row’ repeat drunkenness offenders would take a drug which generates deterrent reactions to alcohol. Most did, belying their supposedly hopeless condition.
Early US study uncovered for the Alcohol Treatment Matrix found a Rogerian client-centred therapy characterised by non-directive, empathic listening beneficially changed self-perceptions of alcohol-dependent patients and reduced relapse compared to approaches based on learning theory or psychoanalysis.
Uncovered in our search for seminal studies for the Alcohol Treatment Matrix, a piece of old gold … Hampered by problems with implementation, this evaluation of an early controlled drinking brief intervention showed no advantage for patients over basic advice (or no intervention at all), prefiguring later findings from larger trials.
DOCUMENT 1961 HTM file
Persuasion and Healing: a Comparative Study of Psychotherapy
First published in 1961, Jerome D. Frank’s book Persuasion and Healing was a pioneering insight into the important components shared by effective therapies in mental health including the addictions, components now widely acknowledged as more influential than the specific theories and methods of different approaches.
Seminal study that validated motivational interviewing’s empathic, client-centred style. It suggested that by not provoking resistance, the non-confrontational style mandated by motivational interviewing reduced drinking compared to the then more typical blunt and challenging approach.
Reprint of a 1977 presentation of one of the most influential studies of heroin addiction ever conducted, which called in to question its supposed addictive qualities, the need for prolonged treatment and abstinence to overcome addiction, and whether heroin use inevitably causes major social problems.
DOCUMENT 1962 HTM file
Should dependent drinkers always try for abstinence?
For many alcohol treatment services in the past and now, the only acceptable and feasible drinking goal for alcoholics is abstinence. That mould was decisively cracked when in 1973 researchers showed that even physically dependent drinkers could learn to drink in moderation. Controversy was fierce, reaching to the US Congress, TV networks and the courts.
STUDY 1992 HTM file
Disulfiram treatment of alcoholism
Still relevant today, from the early 1990s this UK randomised trial of disulfiram in the treatment of alcohol dependence found that, given daily supervision to make sure patients took tablets they knew would cause unpleasant effects if they drank, the effect was to significantly reduce drinking.
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