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Reducing harm caused by alcohol

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Alcohol Deaths Prevention Support

AFS has produced guidance for Alcohol and Drug Partnerships (ADPs) and Public Health teams on Alcohol Death Reviews. These are reviews of cases where people have died, undertaken collaboratively with statutory, third sector and recovery community input. They examine how systems could adapt to better meet the needs of people who are at risk of dying, now or in the future.

The guidance is a reference manual for teams to undertake reviews in around 12-18 months. It covers every stage of the process, from initial thinking to publication of your review. We encourage people to think early on about how they can involve a range of professional viewpoints and perspectives in their reviews. This lets reviews understand the breadth of supports available in their area to people who are at risk of dying, and how they might better support people.

Reviews are split into two groups – one which carries out the research and generates data, and the other group which reviews this. The data group typically includes experienced researchers, though not necessarily with experience of addictions. Their understanding of addictions problems can be helped by discussion with the review group, whose multidisciplinary experience of work in addictions positions them to make change across systems of care.

AFS advises ADPs and Public Health teams to look at how they can collaborate, as far as possible. Researcher time is usually easier to find through Public Health and access to certain records relies on NHS staff access, but ADPs have extensive networks with recovery and third sector supports, which are crucial for having a full review. The process of developing a review should itself set up networks in your area which can take forward alcohol deaths prevention work in the future.

Once you start planning your review, and as it takes place, you can make use of the Alcohol Death Researchers’ Network. As important as deaths prevention work is, it’s also a heavy subject and the ADRN is a friendly, welcoming environment for researchers and planners to talk about their work and deaths prevention more broadly. It meets bimonthly, and everyone is welcome, please contact simon.jones@alcohol-focus-scotland.org.uk for details of the next meeting.

Other alcohol deaths prevention work includes projects to identify how new and existing supports can be improved to meet the needs of people at risk of dying. Please get in touch if you would like more information.