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An overview of the evidence for substance use interventions

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Author: Rebecca McKetin, Poshan Thapa, Natalia Uthurralt, Alessandra Bo, Louisa Degenhardt, Michael Farrell, Jane Mounteney, Paul Griffiths, Tayla Degan

Resource Type: Technical Reports

This report documents the search strategy and findings from an overview of reviews on interventions for substance use. This overview was conducted to review and validate the evidence for interventions in the European Response Guide 2021, and update evidence statements in the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction’s (EMCDDA’s) Health and Social Responses to Drug Problems. The review focussed on the domains covered in these evidence guidelines: 

  • interventions to prevent or delay cannabis use
  • treating problematic cannabis use
  • treating opioid dependence
  • reducing opioid-related deaths
  • treatment for problematic stimulant use
  • treatment for misuse of medicines
  • responses for vulnerable young people
  • interventions in schools and colleges
  • interventions in prisons and the criminal justice system

Literature searches were undertaken to identify review papers on each of these topics (from 2010 to March 2021). Only illicit substance use was considered. From the identified reviews we extracted a list of evidence statements relevant to each topic, the quality of which was graded using the Cochrane GRADE rating system. 

The derived evidence statements were used to review and suggest updates to the EMCDDA evidence guidelines. The evidence statements we report here may therefore differ from those reported by the EMCDDA. The latter have undergone revisions and have been updated to reflect more recent data.  

In this report, we document the process of conducting the review, and report on the evidence statements we identified and their quality ratings. 

This information is also summarised online here