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Experts highlight importance of research in tackling problem drug use

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Experts from across the UK met to discuss the importance of research in tackling problem drug use, at a conference organised by the Drugs Research Network Scotland (DRNS) today.

The network, which is based at the University of Stirling, supports the development and dissemination of Scottish drugs research to help inform policy, practice and community responses.

Dr Catriona Matheson, Honorary Professor at Stirling and Convenor of DRNS, said: “We are delighted to be running our first national conference. As the Scottish Parliament debates the future direction of the national drugs policy, we are bringing together academics, peer researchers, and health and care providers, to develop skills and collaborations across the sector.

Problem drug use

“As drug-related deaths continue to rise, there is a pressing need for research to inform an evidence-based response, and ultimately to improve the lives of those affected by problem drug use.”

Speakers included Professor Alex Stevens, from the University of Kent, who highlighted examples of how research has been used to inform policy – such as in the international spread of support for the decriminalisation of drug possession.

Professor Tracy Finch, from Northumbria University, spoke about her work in implementation science – which studies methods and strategies to promote the uptake of effective interventions into routine practice, with the aim of improving population health.

The conference, at the Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, also offered a variety of workshop sessions, including one exploring different approaches to involving people with lived and living experience of drug use (and affected family members) in research, and another looking at how to communicate research effectively with policy-makers.

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