Home > The effectiveness of interventions related to the use of illicit drugs: prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery. A ‘review of reviews’.

Bates, Geoff and Jones, Lisa and Cochrane, Madeleine and Pendlebury, Marissa and Sumnall, Harry (2017) The effectiveness of interventions related to the use of illicit drugs: prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery. A ‘review of reviews’. Dublin: Health Research Board.

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This review examines the evidence on the effectiveness of interventions in the areas of harm reduction, prevention, treatment and long-term recovery related to illicit drug misuse and dependence. The primary research questions for this review were:

  • Which interventions are effective for reducing the initiation, or continued use, of illicit drugs and related harmful behaviours amongst children and young people aged up to 25 years?
  • Which interventions are effective for reducing harmful behaviours related to illicit substance use?
  • Which interventions are effective at treating substance misuse amongst people who misuse or who are dependent upon illicit drugs?
  • What interventions are effective at supporting people who misuse illicit drugs to fully recover from their substance misuse and become better reintegrated into the community following/alongside treatment?

Evidence was identified through a ‘review of reviews’ approach. High quality systematic reviews published since 2010 were identified through a comprehensive search of relevant electronic databases, and screened for relevance against pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. The quality of relevant reviews was determined using quality check tool in the Joanna Briggs Institute methods manual for undertaking umbrella reviews (JBI, 2014). Lower quality reviews and reviews published prior to 2010 were included where evidence was missing on key interventions.

In total, 97 review articles were identified to answer the primary research questions and were split across three reviews under the headings of prevention (13 reviews), harm reduction (24 reviews) and treatment and recovery (62 reviews), with two reviews covering both harm reduction and treatment interventions. Outcomes relating to the review research questions were summarised in outcomes tables of evidence. The quality of the evidence was determined using a GRADE approach and rated ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ dependent on the quality and extent of primary studies and the consistency of the direction of findings.

Date:July 2017
Call No:HRB library
Pages:200 p.
Publisher:Health Research Board
Place of Publication:Dublin
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB 5336 (Available), HRB 5337 (Available)
Subjects:A Drugs and alcohol use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence of drugs and alcohol use > Problem drugs and alcohol use
A Drugs and alcohol use, abuse, and dependence > Natural history of drugs and alcohol use > Drugs and alcohol recovery
HJ Treatment method > Drugs and alcohol disorder treatment method
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation
J Health care, prevention and rehabilitation > Drugs and alcohol prevention
T Demographic characteristics > Adolescent / youth (teenager / young person)
VA Geographic area > International aspects

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