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Drug and Alcohol Findings. (2013) Effectivness Bank Bulletin [Drug policy: evidence for effective interventions]. Effectiveness Bank Bulletin, 15 Feb,

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Drug policy and the public good: evidence for effective interventions.
Strang J., Babor T., Caulkins J. et al. Lancet: 2012, 379(9810), p. 71–83.
Review of relevant research by an international team of leading researchers offers policymakers guidance on the interventions most likely on the evidence to achieve national policy aims in respect of illegal drug use.

This review by an international team of researchers critically assesses the scientific basis of interventions intended to prevent or at least minimise the damage that illicit drugs do to the public good, including social benefits such as better public health, reduced crime, and greater stability and quality of life for families and neighbourhoods. It aims to help policymakers make informed decisions about which options will maximise the public good. Values and political processes (eg, voting) are important drivers of drug policy, but evidence of effectiveness and cost-effectiveness can help the public and policy makers to select policies that best achieve agreed goals.

Contemporary drug-related public policy attempts to promote the public good through a broad range of administrative actions designed to prevent the initiation of drug use by non-users, help heavy drug users change their behaviour or reduce the consequences of their drug use, and control the supply of illicit drugs (and the supply of diverted prescription drugs used for non-medical purposes) through laws, regulations, and enforcement.

Some of the evidence on such initiatives comes from randomised trials and quasi-experimental designs with similar control A group of people, households, organisations, communities or other units who do not participate in the intervention(s) being evaluated. Instead, they receive no intervention or none relevant to the outcomes being assessed, carry on as usual, or receive an alternative intervention (for the latter the term comparison group may be preferable). Outcome measures taken from the controls form the benchmark against which changes in the intervention group(s) are compared to determine whether the intervention had an impact and whether this is statistically significant. Comparability between control and intervention groups is essential. Normally this is best achieved by randomly allocating research participants to the different groups. Alternatives include sequentially selecting participants for one then the other group(s), or deliberately selecting similar set of participants for each group. conditions, but this review also considered other types of evidence when randomised controlled trials could not be implemented or would be politically challenging to implement.

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