Effectiveness Bank bulletin 11 September 2013

First two additions to the Effectiveness Bank address the issue of how little can be done and still gain some therapeutic benefits. Next is about how to make the most of talking therapies - long or short - by improving patients’ cognitive abilities. Since we first released this entry we have been made aware of allegations against the lead author, now explained in the entry. Final entry extends out from treatment to the emerging recovery context in northern England.

Get up to speed on the 'hot' topics which arouse controversy due to their importance and disputes over the facts or their interpretation:
Hot topics archive Complete set of current and past hot topics

Feasible intervention for short-sentence heavy drinkers
Short sentences precluding lengthy treatment are common among female prisoners, but often a single brief intervention session could be fitted in, a tactic tried by this US study to moderate the drinking of very heavy drinking women prisoners. The surprise was not that there were few benefits, but that there were some, especially after a reinforcing session usually conducted after the prisoners' release.

Is counselling dispensable in methadone programmes?
Guidelines and sometimes too regulations mandate it, but does counselling really help new methadone patients? In this US study, up to a year after starting treatment patients offered virtually no counselling for the first four months were doing as well as those offered regular counselling. But there was a hint that intensive and high quality counselling enabled more to safely leave treatment.
For more see this Findings hot topic on counselling in methadone programmes.

Brain exercises help clients engage with and benefit from therapy
Some treatment clients may have started life with relatively few intellectual resources and spent years daily numbing their brain and/or revving it up with drugs. Perhaps they just don't 'get' therapy and counselling falls on ears unable to sustain attention, comprehend, retain, and organise to implement the messages. For the first time this US study has not only suggested this is indeed a significant issue, but shown that psychological exercises to remedy cognitive deficits improve outcomes by helping patients get to grips with treatment.
Updated with a panel alerting readers to the alleged fabrication of research data by the lead author. It is unclear whether the findings of this study are under suspicion.

Challenges faced by groundbreaking recovery projects
The enthusiastic shoots of a recovery orientation emerging in treatment systems and services in northern England faced considerable challenges in gaining sufficient coverage to transform the established landscape – literally transform in the case of a plan to communally build an Iron Age roundhouse village.

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.