HOT TOPICS for May and June 2012
The more important an issue is, the more likely it is to be contested. These are the hot topics,
some new, some perennial, plus some which ought to be hot but have been neglected. Our selection
gives you one-click access to relevant Findings analyses. New entries are drafted or previous ones
updated every two months.
THE HUMAN TOUCH: ESSENTIAL, DISPENSABLE, OR SOMETIMES ONE, SOMETIMES THE OTHER?
The latest set squares up to a truly touchy issue - does helping the problem substance user require
the human touch? Evidence that computerised responses can help further down the complexity and need
scale is set alongside what for too long was an under-acknowledged reality - that the therapist
often matters more than the therapy. Even in the seemingly mechanical world of pre-programmed
incentives and sanctions, how the patient interprets the meaning behind the programme is important.
Finally, the essence of the human touch - mutual aid from fellow sufferers in the form of 12-step
fellowships, and whether these can make treatment exit safe rather than life-threatening. This
latest set is now at:
Individual links below.
COMPUTERISED THERAPY AND ADVICE GROWING IN ACCEPTANCE AND RESEARCH BACKING
The idea that an automated response could help retrieve addicted patients from often desperate
situations seems not just unbelievable, but somehow wrong - a denial of the humanity (in terms of
compassion and real bodies) due to them. Things have not yet gone that far and may never do, but
further down the complexity and need scale, computer-aided or entirely computer-driven interventions
are gaining ground, especially for less severely affected risky drinkers.
TREATMENT STAFF MATTER
For most research, the impact of the individual therapist is noise in the system - a nuisance to be
adjusted out of the analysis in order to focus on the therapy. This risks sacrificing what matters
for what so often does not, so we stretched our hot topics to an issue which arguably ought to be
sizzling in the research. The search covers the development and recruitment of the workforce and how
they relate to patients and clients.
CONTINGENCY MANAGEMENT: INCENTIVE-BASED THERAPY
Unjustifiable rewards for doing what most of us do for free (not misusing substances), or a
breakthrough in addiction therapy? Could short-term gains be at the cost of intrinsic motivation if
patients see themselves as abstaining just for the prizes? The ethics of offering money or prizes
for treatment progress are contested, the evidence ill-understood, yet when much psychosocial
therapy seems to makes little difference, this works for some people, at least for a time, sometimes
for longer. See what you make of it.
12-STEP MUTUAL AID PROMISES TO PLUG THE RECOVERY RESOURCES DEFICIT
Paralleling the rise in abstinence-based recovery in UK national strategies has been a rise in the
profile of the best-known programme for achieving this goal - the 12 steps of various mutual aid
fellowships and allied treatments. For the UK, these offer a way to reconcile diminished resources
with the desire to get more patients safely out of treatment. Running this search will enable you to
test whether the popularity of the steps is matched by evidence of effectiveness.
Effectiveness Bank alerts are provided by Drug and Alcohol Findings (http://findings.org.uk) to
alert you to site updates and recent UK-relevant evaluation studies and reviews of drug/alcohol
interventions. Findings is managed by DrugScope, Alcohol Concern and the National Addiction Centre.
The Effectiveness Bank is supported by Alcohol Research UK.
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