Effectiveness Bank bulletin 22 November 2013

Optimistic portrayals of latest alcohol and drug treatment statistics from England are slightly clouded by low penetration for alcohol and fears that the very indicator intended to improve the quality of drug addiction treatment might in some ways be having the opposite effect. Plus how to get more opiate-addicted patients safely in to buprenorphine treatment, and uncomfortable reading for anyone who has placed their prevention hopes in the drug education basket.

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How big is the alcohol treatment need/access gap in England?
England had nearly 110,000 patients in specialist alcohol treatment in 2012/13 and over a third left as planned free of dependence – impressive numbers, but they probably mean most dependent drinkers who could benefit from treatment do not receive it, perhaps partly because so few find their way to treatment via their GPs and other medical services.

Fewer patients but improving drug treatment outcomes in England
Agency responsible for promoting addiction treatment in England argues that efforts to put recovery at its heart are paying off in the form of patients successfully completing treatment and not having to return, but warns that the older caseload is getting harder to move on. One concern: is treatment being de-individualised to generate a 'good news' story?

Induction on to buprenorphine can safely be streamlined
Why do so few primary care doctors offer buprenorphine maintenance to opiate-addicted patients? One reason is that patients starting the treatment have to be medically monitored for several hours, but this first randomised trial suggested many can manage and complete the process safely at home.

Flawed evidence for drug education's preventive impacts
It may be educationally valuable, but in preventive terms, school-based drug education is largely a waste of time. That seems the message of this "trenchant critique" from a specialist at Norway's national drug and alcohol research centre. The focus is on methodological concerns which might undermine positive findings, and on whether these survive a programme's transplantation to real-world conditions

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.