Time to recap the journey started over a year ago to update the Alcohol Treatment Matrix, a unique mapping of seminal and key research and guidance on alcohol brief interventions and different treatment domains, from the interventions through to whole treatment systems. Along the way we encountered research which set new directions, challenged orthodoxy, and confirmed or confounded ‘common sense’. We are immensely grateful to Alcohol Change UK for their funding and support. All the instalments remain available for you to dip in to by clicking on cells in the matrix or choosing a row to focus on from the list below.
See the whole matrix at:
go to your chosen row below.
Key research testing a core public health strategy – screening and brief intervention. Part prevention, part treatment, these programmes identify risky drinkers at locations such as GPs’ surgeries and emergency departments and then deliver brief advice to reduce risk. Do they work well enough – and can they be implemented widely enough – to reduce alcohol-related harm across a population?
Explores elements shared by effective treatments. Driven by the ‘negative’ findings of what should have been a groundbreaking US trial, a pivotal moment was the (re)recognition that interventions work partly because their cultural fit bequeaths them this power. If this makes treatment seem little more than a placebo, try reframing that, and seeing the ‘placebo effect’ as the major active ingredient.
The centrality of medications most clearly marks an intervention as medical, but for this ‘disease’, medications do not have reliable, mechanical effects. The evidence challenges us to place drugs in the context of the practitioners delivering them, managements and organisations which shape the therapeutic environment, and the local treatment system’s preparatory, supportive and follow-on care.
Psychosocial or ‘talking’ therapies - the mainstay of alcohol treatment, in which human interaction is intended to be the main active ingredient. Are effective therapies really all the same ‘under the bonnet’, and what do we know now about the validity of Carl Rogers’ classic account of the prerequisites of effective therapy?
Final row defocused from the patient to ask what treatment can do for the rest of us by reducing crime and safeguarding families and communities. Core theme was the playing out of the contradictions between segregation and reintegration, care and control.
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Dr Anne Whittaker, Senior Lecturer/Reader, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Care, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland and Substance Misuse Directorate, NHS Lothian, Scotland
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