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Despite the challenges, review confirms that hepatitis C infection can be prevented among injectors, but it takes multi-component strategies with elements such as substitute prescribing to reduce or eliminate drug injection, treatment of infection, and enabling safe injection practices by providing sterile injecting equipment and behaviour-change counselling.
From Norway, strong evidence that being in a methadone or buprenorphine maintenance programme protects heroin-dependent patients from drug-related ill-health including life-threatening overdoses and infections, even if the treatment has not completely subdued illegal drug use.
Consolidates WHO guidance on HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for key populations including prisoners and people who inject drugs. Strongly advocates universal access of injectors to needle exchange and of dependent opioid users to indefinite, high dose methadone and buprenorphine maintenance.
STUDY 1995 HTM file
An evaluation of private methadone clinics
Comparison of three Australian clinics highlights the importance of good organisation and an ethos of individualised treatment and care for patients, rather than acting as a more or less efficient ‘methadone dispensary’.
DOCUMENT 2012 HTM file
Practice standards for young people with substance misuse problems
Practice standards developed by the UK’s Royal College of Psychiatrists on working with young people aged 18 or under with substance misuse problems, intended (if followed) to promote high quality screening, assessment and treatment for these young people.
Opiate dependent patients in Scotland who opted for or were allocated to methadone sustained their abstinence from heroin as well as those on buprenorphine, but buprenorphine was far better at helping continuing heroin users cut back – suggestive, but the study’s constraints make the practice implications unclear.
This thorough review formed the evidential basis for recent guidance from England's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence on how best to distribute sterile syringes. Maximising the proportion of injections done with sterile equipment is the key objective.
DOCUMENT 2014 HTM file
Needle and syringe programmes
The UK’s health advisory body recommends high coverage and if need be, 24-hour needle exchange to combat HIV and the hepatitis C epidemic. The aim they say is for every injector to have even more sterile injecting equipment than they need for every single injection.
An expert committee responds to the Scottish government’s concerns over the role of methadone prescribing in helping patients along the Road to Recovery signposted in the national strategy. On the ground, that road was often barely constructed but methadone was not the problem, rather the failure to optimise programmes for recovery.
DOCUMENT 2013 HTM file
Can we dispense with counselling, therapy, treatment as we know it, and just punish or deprive patients of rewards when they use substances in undesired ways, and reward them when they behave as we/they would wish? British services are trialling an approach about which many clinicians express major ethical concerns – contingency management.
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