Deaths involving legal highs in Scotland

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Just published (online) in the International Journal of Drugs Policy – some well known researchers behind this: Mortality related to Novel Psychoactive Substances in Scotland, 2012: an exploratory study Abstract Background The growth of Novel Psychoactive Substances (NPS) over the last decade, both in terms of availability and consumption, is of increasing public health concern. Despite recent increases […]

What is recovery?

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A stumbling block to moving forward with recovery in the UK and elsewhere is lack of agreement about what recovery actually is. Highly specific definitions (e.g. recovery = abstinence) can lead to exclusion and fierce disagreement while non-specific definitions are too woolly to measure in services which are being asked to deliver measurable outcomes. Professionals and recovering people […]

AA or NA for drug dependent clients?

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In addiction treatment, study after study has shown a link between attending mutual aid and better outcomes for substance user disorders. These better outcomes include abstinence and there is consistent evidence of health cost savings. In Scotland we are fortunate to have around 1000 mutual aid meetings running weekly in our cities, towns and villages. […]

What do clinicians make of addiction recovery?

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Which teachers were the best when you were at school? Likely the ones who believed in you, connected with you, who had a vision for where you could go and who enthusiastically helped you get there. The same characteristics are likely to define the best clinicians too. In a study, published a few days ago, […]

Pain needs painkillers – right?

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Overprescribing of opioid painkillers has caused harm to many people. Problems include addiction, loss of social functioning and increasingly, though still relatively uncommonly in the UK, to death. Concerns have been raised about deaths associated with tramadol in particular. I’ve written before about the lack of evidence of effectiveness for opiates in chronic pain, but it […]

Spice, Kryptonite, Black Mamba – legal high marketing

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That the market for ‘legal highs’, or more accurately, new psychoactive substances (NPS) has grown there is no doubt. What’s also growing, in terms of sophistication and technique, is the marketing of these products. With NPS, things are changing so fast that the research is well behind what’s happening in real time. Business is way […]

The wise do recover from addiction

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Wisdom’s not a very scientific term is it? We sort of know what it means, but it’s vague and not really something to value or measure in scientific literature – right? It’s a bit like spirituality; you might get a dozen different definitions depending on whom you talk to. That hasn’t stopped researchers exploring what […]

Narcotics Anonymous for military veterans

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A few years back in a city far, far away, I asked a consultant addiction psychiatrist why he did not refer any of his patients to NA. “There’s not a shred of evidence that it works,” he said. Even then he was misinformed, but I’ve thought many times since then about how his patients were […]

Stigma – a good thing?

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Stigma discredits individuals and groups, reducing social status and creating ‘spoiled identities’, says Goffman. It’s not a good thing. But hang on a minute – might it have a positive function? Could it actually help in terms of public health? Help by changing behaviour through societal pressure. If so, that would be a good thing, […]

“You’re all going to hate the word ‘recovery'”

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One of the problems with an aspirational and non-prescriptive definition of recovery is that it is hard to measure. The definitions most commonly featured in the literature share some elements including wellbeing or health, abstinence and citizenship. Clearly if you can’t define it precisely, then it’s hard to commission services to deliver on it. In […]