Preventing drug use - what works?

Friday, 06 January 2012

A paper, co-authored by Oxford Brookes Professor Dr David Foxcroft, on evidence for effective drug interventions has today been published by The Lancet.

The Lancet publishes paper on global review of drug policy and effectiveness of interventions


A paper, co-authored by Oxford Brookes Professor Dr David Foxcroft, on evidence for effective drug interventions has today been published by The Lancet.The paper, entitled Drug policy and the public good: evidence for effective interventions, has been published as part of The Lancet’s feature series examining addiction from a global perspective.

Debates about which policy initiatives can prevent or reduce the damage that illicit drugs cause to the public good are rarely informed by scientific evidence. Fortunately, evidence-based interventions are increasingly being identified that are capable of making drugs less available, reducing violence in drug markets, lessening misuse of legal pharmaceuticals, preventing drug use initiation in young people, and reducing drug use and its consequences in established drug users.

David and his co-authors reviewed relevant evidence and outline the likely effects of fuller implementation of existing interventions. The reasoning behind the final decisions for action might be of a non-scientific nature, focused more on what the public and policy-makers deem of value. Nevertheless, important opportunities exist for science to inform these deliberations and guide the selection of policies that maximise the public good.

'Significant effects'

David, who is Professor of Community Psychology and Public Health Department of Social Work and Public Health at Oxford Brookes, led on the preventative aspects of this work and commented: ”Preventive interventions often have little impact, but there are some prevention programmes that, in high quality systematic reviews and randomised controlled trials, show positive effects on drug use initiation and subsequent misuse. For example, the Good Behaviour Game is a preventive intervention in primary schools that has shown significant effects into early adulthood for the prevention of drug abuse as well as other health and social problems. These programmes have also been shown to be cost-effective and therefore policy makers may want to consider how to prioritise such evidence-based prevention programmes." 

'Local, national and international level'

 The paper was developed from the award winning book Drug Policy and the Public Good which David again co-authored. The book won first prize in the public health category of the British Medical Association Book Awards 2010 and presents the accumulated scientific knowledge on illicit drugs that has direct relevance to the development of drug policy on local, national, and international level.

You can find out more about Oxford Brookes' Department of Social Work and Public Health from the University’s webpages.