Drug and Alcohol HIT 2022-23

Co-directors Leonie Roberts, Jo Kesten, Darren Bagnall and Emma Griffith look back at the HIT's achievements in the last year.

  • 1st April 2023

Addressing drug related crime and death

The HIT continues to be involved in the Bristol ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recover) accelerator programme to address drug related crime and drug related death. The funding from this Department of Health and Social Care programme supports local treatment initiatives which benefit the wider Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire area.

Research to help reduce overdoses

HIT co-director Jo Kesten is leading the qualitative component of an MRC Neurosciences & Mental Health Board-funded project to understand how benzodiazepines and opioids interact to increase the likelihood of fatal overdose. It is hoped that findings will help design new harm reduction interventions that could reduce the number of overdoses in the population.

Helping people who inject drugs look after their veins and prevent infections

HIT co-director Jo Kesten has co-produced a toolkit with people who inject drugs, service providers and key stakeholders. This aims to support people who inject drugs to care for their veins and make changes to prevent bacterial infections and related health problems.  The toolkit is now freely available – it is hoped it will help support conversations and equip people who inject drugs with knowledge about safer injecting practices and provide resources to support them. This is especially important since bacterial skin and soft tissue infections such as abscesses and cellulitis among people who inject drugs are an increasing public health concern.

Treating people holistically

The HIT is supporting the development of a needs assessment, working with Bristol Drugs Project and Bristol Recovery Orientated Alcohol and Drugs Service (ROADS), to understand co-existing physical and mental health needs in people who use alcohol and other drugs.

Reaching people at high risk of developing liver disease

Following  the work initiated by the HIT on a reverse liver care disease pathway, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust has developed the ‘Alright My Liver’ pilot project, funded by NHS England. This is delivering outreach FibroScans to members of the public at risk of liver cirrhosis.

Sharing best practice

HIT members have helped to change practice regionally and nationally through presenting at conferences. Topics included using the ‘person-based approach’ to develop and pilot a tailored intervention to prevent bacterial skin and soft tissue infections among people who inject drugs; challenging stigma towards opioid substitution treatment; and trauma-focussed therapies for people who use substances.

Changes to HIT leadership

Clinical Psychologist Sarah Stacey stepped down as HIT co-director when she began a new role outside the region at Inclusion, leading psychology in its prisons and addictions services. The HIT is pleased that Sarah will continue to be involved, and that Emma Griffith, Head of Therapies for Specialised Services/Consultant Clinical Psychologist in Dual Diagnosis/Culture Change Programme Manager for Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust, is interim co-director.

Funding enabled in 2022-23

Drug and Alcohol HIT helped secure £934,700 in 2022-23 for research, improving outcomes and addressing health inequalities.