Effectiveness Bank bulletin 20 March 2014

NICE sees no reason to alter its call for minimum unit pricing for alcohol. Why in health terms this is preferable to tax rises is apparent from New York state. Waste of time to screen employees for cannabis use, suggests review. Patients stay longer on methadone than buprenorphine – not universally seen as a good thing.

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UK alcohol prevention guidance updated
Comprehensive and challenging recommendations came from the UK government’s request to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) for guidance on preventing and responding to problem drinking. Our entry has been revised following a 2014 evidence update and policy and research developments, including the abandonment for England and Wales of minimum unit pricing.

Does raising alcohol tax rates save lives?
The multiple ups and downs of alcohol tax rates in New York state generally could not be shown to have prevented deaths from alcohol-related diseases, but there were exceptions. The message seems to be that tax rises need to be both substantial and across the major types of alcohol to affect fatal disease.

Little evidence for widespread staff testing for cannabis
A review of 20 years of research on cannabis testing at work found that patchy evidence permitted few strong conclusions about whether it improves safety or performance. Given the lack of evidence, it seems wise for UK guidance to limit workplace testing to those who really warrant it because of their jobs.

Methadone’s ‘stickiness’; strength or liability?
Which is the best maintenance medication for heroin dependence? This authoritative analysis of clinically relevant trials of buprenorphine versus methadone found methadone had the edge in retaining patients. But in the recovery era with its stress on treatment exit, is methadone’s ‘stickiness’ an advantage – or a liability?

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.