The future of evidence-based prevention

The Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS) […] provide(s) information of the evidence of effectiveness on a number of named prevention programmes and activities. 

We are very pleased to see the Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service (ADEPIS) mentioned in two key strategic documents this week: The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) report on the prevention of alcohol and drug dependence, and the Home Office third annual review of the Drug Strategy 2010.

We are delighted to note that the development of the service provided by Mentor-ADEPIS, and its role in supporting ‘schools draw upon expert advice and develop evidence-based practice’ represents one of the Home Office key priorities for the year ahead.

The Home Office strategic review also draws on the ACMD pivotal role in keeping abreast of new evidence, findings and areas of work. The ACMD report ‘Prevention of alcohol and drug dependence’, is therefore particularly welcomed at this stage.

The report recognises ADEPIS (alongside the Centre for Analysis and Youth Transitions – CAYT, and the USA National Registry of Evidence-Based Programmes and Practices – NREPP) as key provider of ‘information of the evidence of effectiveness on a number of named prevention programmes and activities’.

One of the key and most welcomed messages outlined in the ACMD report is the acknowledgement that certain approaches to alcohol and drug education currently delivered in schools, and to mass-media publicity campaigns, have little or no preventative outcomes (especially when not evidence-based or used in isolation).

Among various recommendations made by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, we particularly welcome the following:

  • ‘Those involved in commissioning prevention work should be mindful that standalone projects will have little impact on substance abuse unless they are considered as part of wider strategies promoting healthy living’.
  • ‘National policy, and the work of prominent groups such as the ACMD, should be guided by an evidence-based assessment of prevention work. This should consider the long-term effects of programmes which may otherwise be hindered by short-term political, financial and public-opinion pressures’.
  • ‘Research funders and charities should support high-quality evaluation research in the field, including economic effectiveness. There is currently a poor level of information available’.

Evidence-based prevention is taking an increasingly consistent role in shaping governmental strategies and policies. We are, as ever, committed in continuing to provide evidence of effectiveness, information and resources to support schools and practitioners improve alcohol and drug education and prevention, whilst promoting children and young people’s health and well-being.