Evidence review summary: drug demand reduction, treatment, and harm reduction


This short report presents a brief overview of recent evidence for the most effective approaches in the fields of drug use prevention, drug use treatment and harm reduction. It discusses the strengths and limitations of the evidence and some challenges for the implementation of the approaches, and it summarises the principles underpinning the successful knowledge transfer that supports the use of evidence in the development and delivery of policy and practice.

Section 1 describes the range of illicit drug-related research that is currently being undertaken in the European Union (EU) and defines evidence-based policy and practice. Key findings from critical health policy research are presented to illustrate the complexities and challenges of developing evidence-based policy and practice.

Section 2 presents a series of evidence statements derived from two recent ‘review of reviews’ conducted by the authors on the effectiveness of interventions for prevention, treatment and harm reduction. This is accompanied by a short commentary on how this evidence might be interpreted and a discussion of the gaps between research findings and the implementation of effective approaches. Finally, Section 3 introduces knowledge transfer activities and describes research findings that have identified the core components of successful knowledge transfer activities.

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Evidence review summary: drug demand reduction, treatment, and harm reduction

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Additional information

This paper was commissioned by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) to provide background information to inform and contribute to the drafting of Health and social responses to drug problems: a European guide.

This background paper was produced under contract CT.16.SDI.0093.1.0 and we are grateful for the valuable contribution of the authors. The paper has been cited within Health and social responses to drug problems and is also being made available online for those who would like further information on the topic. However, the views, interpretations and conclusions set out in this publication are those of the authors and are not necessarily those of the EMCDDA or its partners, any EU Member State or any agency or institution of the European Union.