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Our Past Research

One good thing about taking part in the group discussion was that I got to express stuff that had happened to me that I hadn't been able to tell anyone else about.
Jo, Preventure Study Participant

Exploring the Acceptability of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous Among Young Substance Users

Victoria Manning has carried out a study exploring the acceptability of Alcoholics and Narcotics (AA/NA) meetings amongst young people. These support groups have traditionally been attended by mainly older people. Victoria and her team investigated ways of increasing the attendance at these groups.

'Recovery Coach' study

Victoria also determined whether or not having a 'recovery coach' (a peer who has been through the process of attending Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings already, and is much further along the recovery path) can be helpful in encouraging people to attend AA/NA meetings and abstain from their alcohol and drug use.

Profile of Harm Caused to the Children of Substance-Misusing Parents

In addition to her other projects, Victoria analysed national databases and investigated the relevant data to try to determine a profile of harm caused to children whose parents misuse substances. She also used the data to estimate the number of these vulnerable children and present the findings at the House of Lords.

Preventure study

It seems one of the best ways to tackle addiction is via education in schools and colleges but until now, most programmes have been found to be completely ineffective. With 20,000 young people each year becoming adult drug users, the key is to find a prevention technique that works.

Dr Patricia Conrod developed and worked on the 'Preventure' project. 'Preventure' is a school-based prevention programme conducted in 18 schools in London boroughs. The programme targets teenagers who have a "risky" personality type which may be more prone to substance abuse, namely:
  • anxiety sensitivity
  • sensation seeking
  • negative thinking
  • impulsivity
The project helps children deal with their personality types in more positive ways.

The programme is based on interactive group sessions using specially designed educational material. They focus on the factors which motivate "risky" behaviour, and provide students with coping skills to aid their decision making in situations involving, anxiety and depression, thrill seeking, aggressive and risky behaviour (e.g. theft, vandalism and bullying) drugs and alcohol misuse.

Nearly 3,000 students aged between 13 and 16 were initially surveyed to determine their personality type. Amongst those, 422 students were invited to participate in the study and assigned to either one of the four intervention sessions - Sensation Seeking, Negative Thinking, Impulsivity and Anxiety Sensitive, or a control group (which receives no intervention).

Preventure study in Pupil Referral Units

The Preventure study was also extended to 12 Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) in London. Six PRUs were control schools and six used the intervention. The results were found to be similar to those found in mainstream schools.

Adventure study

Dr Conrod and her team have trained staff in secondary schools in the UK to deliver these interventions to young people. Results of the 'Adventure' study showed that when trained properly, school staff were as effective in delivering 'Preventure' as psychologists, and results were replicated.

To read the SecEd article (21/3/13) with Jon Kelly (assistant head inclusion) at Corelli College in South East London, discussing the trial, please visit this link

Children of Alcoholics studyIndividuals with a family history of alcoholism are at 4 to 9 times greater risk for developing alcoholism. Family history of alcoholism is also associated with a type of alcoholism that has an earlier onset and more chronic and severe course.

Research on children of alcoholics indicates that they are characterised by childhood conduct disorder and hyperactivity, behavioural undercontrol, anxiety, abnormal stress-response patterns and sensitivity to the reinforcing effects of alcohol.

Despite a large body of research examining characteristics of children of alcoholics, there is very little known about how to prevent genetic vulnerability to alcoholism.

The team developed intervention programmes that targeted genetic risk for alcoholism and research that tested the success of their prevention techniques.

Recruitment for this study was extremely difficult due to the nature of the study. Parents did not want to admit their children are eligible for the study and often there were child protection issues as many children do not live with parents who give consent. As a result the researchers looked at university students who were over 18.

(RIOTT Trial) Randomised Injectable Opiate Treatments Trial

The Randomised Injectable Opiate Treatment Trial (RIOTT) is the first clinical trial of its kind to be carried out in the UK.

There are around 10% of heroin addicts who have failed to respond to conventional opiate treatment. Many of these people commit crimes to fund their habit. This trial has compared the effectiveness of treatments.

Participants were randomly assigned one of the following treatments:
  • Optimised oral methadone (optimised just means that the conditions are optimal - i.e. doses are individualised, taken under supervision, the client can receive other help, like counselling).
  • Injectable methadone
  • Injectable heroin (Swiss diamorphine)
All clients receiving treatments are supervised by medical staff clinics, which are based in London, Brighton and Darlington.

Some clients have shown marked improvements in their health and by regularly attending the clinics they have also created more structure to their day, which is important to people who may never have had any routine in their lives.

The results of the RIOTT study were published in The Lancet in May 2010.

The results of the RIOTT study

Radio 4's Today Programme reported on the early stage of the trial.

This study was supported by the Big Lottery Fund.

Community Impact Study

Dr Peter Miller carried out a study to find out how the London-based clinic impacted on the local community.

Community Impact Study

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