Drug-related research in the United Kingdom 2017

United Kingdom Country Drug Report 2017

Drug-related research

The United Kingdom conducts a large quantity of drug- related research, which originates mainly from university departments. Research is disseminated through articles published in academic peer-reviewed journals and reports, on websites, in official guidelines based on evidence-based practice, and quality standards and reported in oral presentations. The UK Government funds some of the drug-related research in the United Kingdom directly. Funding for drug-related research comes from a range of departments with a stake in drugs, including the Department of Health, the Department of Education, the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice. Non-governmental organisations that have an interest in drugs also fund some drug-related research.

Areas that are of current topical interest include cost- effectiveness studies; evaluations of how substance use services are funded to determine if the current method is effective; and the design and evaluation of interventions, especially those related to treatment and prevention. Scotland recently published its own separate National Research Framework for Problem Drug Use and Recovery, framing a number of high-level priorities for research.

A wide range of basic biological, neurobiological and behavioural research results have been published; the results of research on cannabis and cocaine are the most prevalent, although research into NPS is becoming more common. Most published research is centred on the negative effects of licit and illicit substances; however, some research has also focused on the potential usefulness of these substances. Drug use prevalence studies are widespread, including studies examining drug consumption trends. Research into associations of use and consequences of use has also been carried out. Studies looking at the prevalence of NPS use and the motivations behind substance use on a population level are becoming more widespread.

Research into demand reduction is focused on various topics, including novel treatment methods of treating substance use dependence; providing treatment to specific populations; and identifying common risks within certain populations. In order to measure the efficacy of harm reduction interventions, randomised controlled trials are often employed. Evaluations of prevention programmes have mainly used a cohort study methodology to understand the specific needs of the at-risk population. Systematic reviews measuring the efficacy of interventions aimed at reducing harm have also been published. Research into supply and supply reduction has been limited in the UK.

Areas that are of current topical interest include cost-effectiveness studies; evaluations of how substance use services are funded; and the design and evaluation of prevention interventions


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