For ten years, Drug and Alcohol Findings has been collecting, analysing and disseminating evaluation research and is now the custodian of the largest working drug and alcohol library in Britain. Drug and Alcohol Findings was a coming together of Britain’s leading addiction research base at the National Addiction Centre and the two national representative bodies for alcohol and drug services respectively: Alcohol Concern, and what was then the Standing Conference on Drug Abuse (SCODA). Mike Ashton, who had spent two decades at the Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence (ISDD), became the project’s editor. ISDD later merged with SCODA to form DrugScope, but apart from that, the partnership has remained the same.
The project’s focus was on the production of the world’s first magazine for drug and alcohol practitioners devoted to bringing them the fruits of international research on their work, in a form they could understand and make use of. Ten years ago in 1999, the first edition was published. It remains a unique hybrid, allying scientific rigour with practitioner-friendly and practice-informed analysis and commentary. In fact the partnership believes it is and needs to be more rigorous than academic journals, because the aim is not to discuss and debate findings, but to put them into practice in ways that will affect the lives of communities, clients, patients and young people.
There was start-up funding from project partners and from Action on Addiction and the Department of Health’s Substance Misuse Advisory Service, then headed by Don Lavoie, and some indirect help along the way from the National Treatment Agency. But apart from this, the magazine was self-sustaining on subscriptions until 2006, when it hit the financial buffers and turned to the J. Paul Getty Jr. Charitable Trust and later the Pilgrim Trust for support. Increasing from a few hundred keen subscribers, its analyses are now downloaded over 25 000 times per month. Past magazine content and current analyses can be searched using a newly upgraded custom-made system, and downloaded and stored as PDF files.
And what of the future? Falling by design between research and practice, funding remains a potential problem, but the commitment of the partners and the reason for the project’s existence are as strong as ever, maybe more so. Above all, the project is fortified by the reactions of its practitioner users and the researchers whose work it subjects to its forensic analyses. Visit the project’s web site and sign up for free bulletins on new research findings at http://findings.org.uk