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From the early 2000s cognitive-behavioural group therapy programmes have been relied on to improve the anti-offending record of UK probation services. Now the first independent evaluation of the main programme for substance users has found no impact on reconviction even among offenders who completed the 20 sessions.
From national and local guidance, commissioners and services, a rounded picture of how much Britain knows about and responds to the needs of the relatives of problem drug users. Increasing recognition of needs has generally yet to be matched by systematic needs assessments or service provision.
For the first time this Canadian randomised study has shown that training probation officers in the risk-need-responsivity model of offender supervision can not only improve their skills and sharpen their practice, but also reduce the recidivism of the offenders they supervise, among whom substance use was a major issue.
Synthesising the results of 154 studies, the most thorough and extensive investigation of the crime-reduction credentials of drug courts finds the evidence bulky but lacking quality, yet sufficient to support courts for adult illegal drug users if not (or not yet) teenagers or drink-drivers.
DOCUMENT 2012 HTM file
The government's alcohol strategy
The UK government alcohol strategy for England and Wales claims to signal a radical change to turn the tide against irresponsible drinking. After resisting the policy, headline is the commitment to setting a minimum per unit price for alcohol.
How to get parents more engaged in becoming a positive influence over their seriously delinquent drug abusing teenagers through family therapy integrated in to a US juvenile drug court. Some of the therapist tactics expected to work did deepen engagement, others did not.
Studies published in the mid-2000s confirm that counselling based on motivational interviewing helps heavy drinking US college students control their drinking and reduce related problems.
REVIEW 2008 HTM file
Offender coercion in treatment: a meta-analysis of effectiveness
This comprehensive synthesis of 129 studies of offender treatment for problems such as substance use found increasing treatment impact as the degree to which the offender was free to choose the treatment increased. At the bottom end, mandated treatment in custody appeared a waste of time and money.
US students who broke college drinking rules and were required to undertake an alcohol programme responded better to three hours of group motivational interviewing than six of alcohol education; enhanced confidence that they could resist risky drinking was the key. For colleges it offers an effective but economical response to problem drinkers.
In England a brief primary care counselling programme for family members living with a relative with substance use problems unusually aims primarily to improve the family's lives and coping rather than that of the substance user. Even a year later it seems to have succeeded, and the improvements accumulated rather than faded.
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