Evaluating the impact of Laws Regulating Illicit Drugs on Health and Society

Evaluating Treatment Outcomes from Drug Policies and Practices

Author(s): Catherine Maria Comiskey*, Elizabeth Mary McCarthy, Zoe Swithenbank and Gordon Hay

Pp: 116-133 (18)

DOI: 10.2174/9789815079241123010011

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Although the human right of individuals around the world has been recognised and enshrined in the United Nations 1966 Convention, global drug policies continue to debate the prevailing philosophies of treatment and practice and often fail to monitor, evaluate, and inform these policies with the best international evidence on what works, for whom, and when.

This chapter will introduce the need to evaluate treatment policy with an overview of treatment philosophies; discuss methodological considerations; measure outcomes and implementation; and finally, outline the future of treatment policy evaluation.

There is a widespread availability of a diverse range of drugs worldwide that are increasing in potency and purity with adverse consequences for individuals, families, communities, and societies. Due to the prevalence and complexity of drug use and marketing globally, along with the rights of individuals to receive appropriate treatment, there is a need for evidence-based information and research to develop the best international practice to ensure good treatment evaluation and outcomes.

Methodological considerations were discussed and examples of case studies, across a range of countries that measured outcomes were outlined, highlighting the importance of monitoring and evaluating the implementation of treatment modalities and philosophies.

Drug treatment policies and philosophies vary across countries due to practice, finances, resources, vested interests, resistance to change, and other constraints. Current practices need ongoing evaluation in terms of needs, process, outcome, client satisfaction, and economics in order to ensure that treatments are ethical and personcentred, meeting the goals of individuals rather than imposing perceived successful outcomes.

Keywords: Abstinence, Addiction, Best practice, Drugs, Ethical, Evaluation, Evidencebased, Harm-reduction, Implementation, Legislation, Methodology, Modalities, Monitoring, Outcomes, Person-centred, Policy, Practice, Research, Substance use, Treatments.

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