University of Hertfordshire

  • A Uchtenhagen
  • A Stevens
  • D Berto
  • U Frick
  • N Hunt
  • V Kerschl
  • Tim McSweeney
  • others
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-10
JournalHeroin Addiction and Related Clinical Problems
Publication statusPublished - 2008


A multi-country, multi-site comparative research study has documented the feasibility of recruiting drug-dependentindividuals receiving treatment as an alternative to imprisonment (‘quasi-compulsory’ treatment, in the setting of an experimental group), while comparing them with those receiving treatment in the same therapeutic institutions,on a voluntary basis (control group). The study combined qualitative and quantitative methods in describing theevolution and outcome of each case after 6, 12 and 18 months in treatment. 845 probands were recruited from 9sites in 5 countries (Austria, Germany, Italy, UK, Switzerland), 429 in the experimental and 416 in the comparisongroup. Data were collected using a standardized instrument set and following a joint protocol that allowed for thetesting of a number of pre-established hypotheses. Significant reductions in drug use and delinquent behaviour,together with improvements in social integration and health, were found in both groups. Higher rates of perceivedexternal pressure to stay in treatment in the experimental group did not affect motivation of these patients as re-gards improvement and retention in the study. It can be concluded that the availability of treatment alternatives toimprisonment for drug dependence are a valuable policy option, under various different conditions, but that thisoption is open to further improvement.

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