Effectiveness bank home page. Opens new window Hot topics

Below is a list of all 45 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, the year the hot topic was last updated, and the type of file you will download when you click on the title. In blue is the hot topic’s title followed by a brief description.

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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.

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 2017 HTM file
Substance use treatment as part of a ‘wrap-around’ package of care

Asks whether supplementing addiction treatment with ‘wrap-around’ services is a distraction, or part of the core business of sustainably overcoming addiction. What’s for sure is that mental health, social and material resources, and the wherewithal for social inclusion, are all often lacking in addiction treatment caseloads; but does addressing these promote recovery?

HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
Hepatitis C ‘giant’ still growing

For a time it seemed impossible to reverse the epidemic of injecting-related hepatitis C infection. Now we know that aided by new treatments which clear the infection, it can be done – but will we?

HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
Promoting recovery through employment

Employment is seen as the key to lasting recovery, but how realistic is it for people whose lifestyles have revolved around using and obtaining drugs?

HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
Cannabis is worth bothering with

Despite heroin, crack and overdose deaths at record levels, we examine the proposition that cannabis use is worth bothering with, including reports that stronger products are aggravating harms, prospects of recovery from problem use, and the emerging response to synthetic forms of cannabis like ‘spice’.

HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
The ‘explosion’ that never happened; crack and cocaine use in Britain

In 1989 a whirlwind of concern was stirred up by a US drug enforcement officer who foresaw a US-style “explosion” of violence associated with the ‘almost instantly addictive’ crack version of cocaine in Britain. That did not happen – but what did, where do those claims stand today, and what of cocaine powder, for decades seen as the ‘champagne set’s’ favourite drug?

HOT TOPIC 2017 HTM file
Controlling alcohol-related crime and disorder

Within UK substance use policy alcohol-related violence and disorder has for decades been a high profile concern. For governments mindful of a drinking electorate, the conundrum is how to curb the fallout from drinking without being branded as a nanny-state killjoy.


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