In March 2015, the Department of Health commissioned Public Health England (PHE) to “review the evidence on: what can be expected of the drug treatment and recovery system and provide advice to inform future policy”.

PHE used a mixed methods approach to review the evidence, drawing on statistical information, engagement with stakeholders including experts by experience, and commissioning external reviews by academic experts.

The review begins with a brief summary of the current nature and prevalence of drug misuse, the history of drug treatment in England, and the outcomes it achieves. The international research literature on treatment effectiveness is then summarised, with comparisons made to effectiveness in England. Comparisons to treatment data from other countries are made where possible. The impact of housing problems, unemployment and social deprivation on treatment engagement and outcomes is reviewed. Finally, the review uses modelling to consider the likely size, characteristics and needs of the drug treatment population in the next four years, and reflects on the challenges for local treatment systems and recommends how treatment outcomes might be measured, maintained and improved.

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