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Drug and Alcohol HIT looks back at 2020-21

20 July 2021

Our Drug and Alcohol HIT co-directors Leonie Roberts, Kyla Thomas, Tim Williams and Jo Kesten look back at 2020-21

Drug and alcohol services adapted and evolved in response to COVID-19. Bristol Drugs Project’s (BDP) impact report summarises how they supported people over the past year. In collaboration with BDP, HIT members conducted LUCID-B (Living under coronavirus and injecting drugs (PWID) in Bristol), a qualitative study in which researchers interviewed 28 people who inject drugs to understand the challenges they faced during the pandemic and support service delivery. The HIT helped disseminate four interim reports to local and national stakeholders. A sister study, What C-OST, to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people who received opioid substitution therapy in rural areas is on-going (interim report).

The HIT funded training to encourage an adversity and trauma informed approach across the system, whilst recognising that different organisations are in different places in the journey to becoming trauma informed and responsive. The Nelson Trust delivered ‘Adversity and Trauma Informed Practices’ for practitioners and managers, and ‘Self care for Practitioners’ training. This was well-received and participants will be followed up with during 2021/22 to assess impact on organisational change. ROADS/AWP will also embed this approach to evaluations of their in-house training to look at changes over the longer term.

The REACT (REducing bACTerial infections) study which aims to prevent bacterial infections among people who inject drugs has finalised an individualised behavioural intervention following consultation with fifteen people who inject drugs. This work was supported by the HIT. A small-scale pilot feasibility study will begin shortly.

A PolicyBristol briefing on cost-effective tools to reduce the spread of the Hepatitis C Virus in people who inject drugs helped disseminate our members research on low dead space injecting equipment. University of Bristol researchers are now working with Public Health England and the NHS England Hepatitis C elimination team to influence the NHS supply chain, and needle and syringe programmes to increase accessibility of low dead space injecting equipment across England.

Bristol Students Union and The Drop at BDP are working together to promote drug and alcohol harm reduction among students. HIT members are evaluating this work to assess uptake, impact on knowledge and drug taking behaviour.

A presentation on the South Gloucestershire Pain Review pilot study to the Prescribed Dependence Forming Medicines Working Group in December 2020 led to a case study on this project being submitted to an NHS England and NHS Improvement Commissioning Framework call for Prescribed Drug Dependence.

Dr Jo Kesten a Research Fellow from the University of Bristol (NIHR ARC West and NIHR HPRU in Behavioural Science and Evaluation) joined the HIT as an interim co-director this year. We are also pleased to welcome Darren Bagnall to the leadership group as public contributor with lived experience. The leadership team is passionate about expanding the involvement of experts by experience in the HIT. Finally, HIT member Vicky Carlisle recently submitted her PhD thesis entitled: “Flying by the Seat of Their Pants” A Mixed-methods Exploration of Retention, Completion and Recovery in Opioid Substitution Treatment. Vicky’s research has been shaped by discussions at the HIT. We would like to congratulate Vicky on this achievement!

Drug and Alcohol HIT looks back at 2020-21
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