FACILITATE ACCESS TO SCREENING, BRIEF INTERVENTIONS AND TREATMENT
The major event organized for this year’s edition of the Día Sin Alcohol took place in Illescas, Toledo. The half-day conference included an intervention by representatives of the Spanish Ministry of Health (National Plan Against Drugs Delegation, PNSD), the presentation of results from the project ‘InRecovery’ by Dr Gabriel Rubio Valladolid (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), an update on alcohol consumption and addicts care during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a collection of personal experiences by Jacinto Alises Banegas (Asociación Daimieleña de Adictos Rehabilitados, ADAR).
Prof. Emanuele Scafato from ISS intervened during the XXVII National Congress of the Italian Society of Alcohology to address the new alcohol-related challenges to be tackled in the post-COVID era. In his speech, he also focused on the importance of an Alcohol Awareness Week at the European level which speaks to medical staff, the public, and policymakers alike. During the congress, new ways of organising health services for screening and treatment of alcohol-related diseases were also discussed.
This year's edition of the MCA symposium discussed key aspects in the treatment and recovery of alcohol addiction (Dr Ed Day, University of Birmingham), with the presentation of emerging evidence in the realms of alcohol pharmacotherapy (Prof. Anne Lingford-Hughes, Imperial College London) and the Edinburgh's recovery and rehabilitation case study by Dr David McCartney (NHS Lothian). Moreover, Prof. John Kelly (Harvard Medical School) presented the science backing up the concept of treating addiction as a chronic disorder. An important contribution was also given by Alcoholics Anonymous (Mr Tom Fox and Dr Mani Mehdikhani).
The Max Glatt Lecture, assigned every year to an exemplary person in the field of addiction, was given to Dr Peter Rice (Eurocare President). Dr Rice spoke of his long history of working to establish a stepped care model for alcohol treatment in Scotland, including brief interventions in primary care, accessible community counselling and ready access to hospitalisation and rehabilitation for those in need. In line with the international experience, it has been difficult to sustain this treatment system in Scotland over the years due to competing priorities in the health and social care system. He also highlighted his experience of implementing evidence-based prevention policies in Scotland with a coming together of public health research, the knowledge of practitioners and political commitment.
The 'Community Alcohol Detox' project is a strategic regional response in Ireland, covering four Local Drug and Alcohol Task Force areas. These comprise representatives of various agencies operating to implement the national alcohol strategy at a local level, according to the community's specific needs. Going forward, the project aims to develop a manual which outlines best practice protocols to follow, to create set referral pathways and partnerships with all relevant stakeholders, and to develop workshops.
The topics discussed by this webinar, aimed particularly at service providers, GPs, and health professionals were the following:
1) Presentation of the role of the 'Community Alcohol Detox' project in tackling the burden of harmful alcohol consumption;
2) Barriers to service users, such as stigma and lack of awareness about available services;
3) Actions to be taken to improve the service and its impact, including input from service users.