Effectiveness Bank bulletin 11 June 2013

Three of the latest additions to the Effectiveness Bank concern treatment in prison: a widely implemented UK cognitive programme; opiate detoxification in an English prison; and a review of prison opioid maintenance programmes. Fourth offers proof that at least in the USA, college health clinics can implement widespread screening and brief alcohol advice.

UK prison programme associated with positive psychological change
From the early 2000s cognitive-behavioural group therapy programmes have been relied on to improve the anti-offending record of UK prisons and probation services, but evidence has been scarce and generally negative. This prison study from England at least suggests that one such programme can promote the intended psychological changes.

In prison too, buprenorphine on average equivalent to methadone for withdrawal
Three English prisons hosted the first randomised trial of tapering doses of buprenorphine versus methadone to ease the withdrawal of opiate users entering prison. As outside prison, the medications seemed roughly equivalent. Three months later just a fifth of the (former) prisoners were no longer using illegal opiates, confirming that abstinence achieved in the controlled environment of a prison is no indication of lasting recovery.

Community loses from failure to offer maintenance prescribing in prisons
Largely due to the treatment's health benefits, this review argues that failure to implement effective opioid maintenance programmes in prisons represents an important missed opportunity to engage high-risk drug users in treatment, at possibly substantial costs both to individuals and the community.

College health clinics can do mass alcohol screening and brief advice
College health clinics can themselves implement widespread screening and brief alcohol advice is one conclusion of this first large-scale test conducted at five North American universities. The other main conclusion – that by doing so they make worthwhile reductions in drinking and related harm – is weakened by the small size of the impacts.

Sent by the Drug and Alcohol Findings Effectiveness Bank to alert you to site updates and UK-relevant evaluations and reviews of drug/alcohol interventions. Managed by DrugScope, Alcohol Concern and the National Addiction Centre. Supported by Alcohol Research UK and the J. Paul Getty Jr. Charitable Trust.