This short report presents a brief overview of recent evidence for the most effective approaches in the fields of drug use prevention, drug use treatment and harm reduction. It discusses the strengths and limitations of the evidence and some challenges for the implementation of the approaches, and it summarises the principles underpinning the successful knowledge transfer that supports the use of evidence in the development and delivery of policy and practice.

Section 1 describes the range of illicit drug-related research that is currently being undertaken in the European Union (EU) and defines evidence-based policy and practice. Key findings from critical health policy research are presented to illustrate the complexities and challenges of developing evidence-based policy and practice.

Section 2 presents a series of evidence statements derived from two recent ‘review of reviews’ conducted by the authors on the effectiveness of interventions for prevention, treatment and harm reduction. This is accompanied by a short commentary on how this evidence might be interpreted and a discussion of the gaps between research findings and the implementation of effective approaches.

Finally, Section 3 introduces knowledge transfer activities and describes research findings that have identified the core components of successful knowledge transfer activities.