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Unequivocal backing from UN agencies for methadone and other forms of long term maintenance treatments as the prime modality for the treatment of dependence on heroin and allied drugs. In contrast say the experts, detoxification results in poor long term outcomes.
What happens when opiate-addicted patients are suddenly no longer required to take their methadone under supervision but can take it away from the pharmacy? In Scotland this was tried in the first UK randomised trial; patients stayed longer in treatment and there was no dramatic escalation in heroin use.
In the US homeland of competition and private health care, it was cooperation and coordination which led to the introduction of new medications and innovations to promote continuing care – plus the exercise of regulatory and financial muscle and the salutary experience of senior staff who placed themselves in the patient's shoes.
In 2007–08 the US state of Maine introduced a new scheme directly linking funding for outpatient treatment services to performance in terms of waiting times and retention, but financial and service delivery impacts were negligible. Were the incentives too weak, or were services already doing as well as they could?
UK-focused review for Britain's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence of what impedes or promotes the implementation of brief alcohol interventions at the level of the organisation, the staff doing the work, and the patients targeted by the programme.
At three London hospitals 4% of inpatients completed a brief alcohol intervention after being screened for hazardous drinking by ward staff. Staff were positive and on one ward nearly half the patients were screened and one in ten counselled, but the overall results are unlikely to dent the public health burden imposed by risky drinking.
As this review comments, people treated for substance use often remain precariously balanced between recovery and relapse. Widely seen as valuable if not essential, aftercare is nevertheless more the exception than the rule. How to reverse that ratio is the issue addressed by these leading US analysts.
This review encapsulates the range of treatment assessment and improvement tools developed over decades by the Texas Christian University, widely recognised as the most comprehensive and systematic attempt to map the processes involved in treatment and to link these to interventions to improve outcomes for the client.
Applying a systematic and comprehensive framework to map the strategies trialled in attempts to implement screening and counselling for risky drinking primary care patients gives some clues to what it has taken to achieve a high screening rate, the essential first step in the process.
STUDY 2010 HTM file
Offender alcohol interventions: minding the policy gap
Based on exhaustive consultations in the south west of England, this report diagnoses the blockages to providing adequate alcohol-related services to offenders and makes recommendations to improve commissioning, coordination and practice.
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