Effectiveness Bank web site
Supported by    Society for the Study of Addiction web site   Alcohol Change UK web site
Highlights from the Effectiveness Bank in 2020
Thanks to funding from the Society for the Study of Addiction and Alcohol Change UK, Drug and Alcohol Findings was able to keep writing and publishing in-depth analyses about what works to reduce problems associated with drinking and illicit drug use throughout the year 2020. This included the following highlights:

On harm reduction…
“Strong evidence from two US cities that moving from a blanket prohibition on possession of equipment for injecting illegal drugs to providing this equipment via legal needle and syringe programmes prevented thousands of HIV infections, resulting in large savings in the treatment of these infections.”
Excerpt from an analysis of the impact of policy changes to allow needle and syringe programmes in two US cities.

On brief alcohol interventions…
“The strand of the ODHIN trial that asked what primary care clinicians thought would help them bridge the ‘implementation gap’ in screening for risky drinking and brief advice found that essential ingredients were knowledge and skills, team-based training, and learning to prioritise screening and brief interventions during high workloads. Clinicians from all countries had mixed levels of trust in the principles of internet-based delivery and felt their patients would not be interested in this format.”
Excerpt from an analysis of why, how, for whom, and under what circumstances different strategies could extend the delivery of screening and brief interventions.

On pharmaceutical treatments…
“While people who received buprenorphine during follow-up were less likely to be imprisoned than those who received methadone, overall, the findings seemed to support the theory that being in opioid substitution therapy – whether methadone or buprenorphine – is better than not being in opioid substitution therapy at reducing an opioid-dependent person’s involvement in crime and the criminal justice system over the longer term.”
Excerpt from an analysis of criminal justice outcomes five years after participants had been randomly allocated to either methadone or buprenorphine as treatment for opioid dependence.

On the ‘placebo effect’…
“What the placebo effect consists of has yet to be adequately unpacked, but it is almost certainly far more than a reaction to taking a pill. In Western societies, taking a medicine is perhaps the prime culturally endorsed way to signal the existence of a curable condition and to cure it.”
Excerpt from cell A3 of the Alcohol Treatment Matrix about whether the placebo effect is the main active ingredient, set within a larger discussion about the treatment of alcohol dependence in a medical context.

TELL US HOW WE’RE DOING Drug and Alcohol Findings aims to upgrade the effectiveness of Britain’s response to substance use problems by bridging the gap between UK-relevant research on interventions and the practitioners who provide them. If you would like to share your thoughts or feedback on what we do and how we do it, please consider completing our survey – closing date 31st January 2021. We read all of your comments, and will be publishing a summary of our survey findings in the next few months. Click here to see the findings of our previous survey.


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The Drug and Alcohol Findings Effectiveness Bank offers a free mailing list service updating subscribers to UK-relevant evaluations of drug/alcohol interventions. Findings is supported by the Society for the Study of Addiction and Alcohol Change UK, and advised by the National Addiction Centre.