CERGA Rapid Literature Reviews

Click the links below to download quick critical evaluations of published literature on current hot topics eg psychostimulants or complimentary therapy. Occasionally more detailed, systematic reviews may be commissioned if required.

To suggest a topic for CERGA to consider please use the Suggestions

Parental Influence on Alcohol Use in Adolescents and Young Adults

Alcohol misuse by adolescents is often linked with teenage pregnancy, hospitalisations, and sexually transmitted infections (Cook et al., 2010), and is thus a major public health concern. This CERGA paper has explored the evidence for whether and how parents influence alcohol consumption as adolescents and whether this influences drinking patterns as young adults.

Click here to download – 10/03/2015

Evidence on alcohol point-of-sale (POS) position/placement in small independent shops and its influence on purchasing and consumption

This scoping review aimed to explore the extent of research investigating the link between alcohol, Point Of Sales promotions, placements/position and percentage coverage of shop floor in off-sales premises/convenience stores/small retail outlets, (rather than large stores and supermarket chains) and its effect on alcohol purchasing and consumption behaviours.

Click here to download. – 18/12/2015

Changes in Alcohol Consumption in Older People

This rapid review approached the research question: Is there evidence relating to an ageing population of harmful/hazardous alcohol users in the general population and their impact on health and social care? Some connection with self medication was included.

Click here to download – 18/12/2015

The Effect of Opiate Maintenance Treatment of Adrenal Reserves

There is much documented evidence that opiates lower testosterone levels in men due to pituitary suppression. Similarly oestrogen levels are suppressed in women who may present with loss of periods. However the effect of opiates on other areas of the Hypothalamic-Adrenal–Pituitary axis (HAP), in particular adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol are less well documented. Suppression of ACTH could have potentially serious consequences if patients develop acute concurrent illnesses and are unable to mount a normal cortisol stress response. The diagram below presents the relationship between the components of the HAP axis.

This CERGA paper looked at evidence for the potential effects on ACTH and cortisol productionin those on opiate maintinance treatment.

Click here to download (Word Document 118kb) – 16/09/2015

National Recovery from Alcohol and Drug Dependence

There has being growing interest in the phenomenon of natural recovery from alcohol and drug dependence. Over the last 25 years there has been a growing body of literature on this topic that has developed from acknowledging the existence of natural recovery to assessing the size of identifying determinants or predictors of natural recovery. It is accepted that there is much that treatment and support services might be able to learn from the natural recovery literature to give better support to those in treatment.

This CERGA review aimed to answer two questions:

  1. What are the key characteristics of those who recover naturally from alcohol (and drugs?) dependence?
  2. What helps or hinders natural recovery?

Click here to download (PDF 177kb)  – 11/06/2015

Attendance or Non-Attendance at Appointments for Substance Use Treatment

This paper looks at interventions that are effective in reducing non-attendance at initial appointments for the treatment of substance use, and the factors that are associated with attendance or non-attendance.

Click here to download (PDF 175kb) – 13/03/2015

Alcohol Liaison Nurses

This paper looks at the evidence for whether specialist alcohol liaison nurses improve alcohol-related outcomes in patients admitted to hospital settings?

Click here to download (PDF 112kb) – 12/02/2015

Mentalisation in Substance Misuse

Mentalisation is defined as ?the competence to envisage mental states in self and others and to understand behaviour in terms of mental state?. This paper has looked at evidence base for its use in substance misuse (alcohol and drugs).

Click here to download (Word Document 33kb) – 12/02/2015

Activities Aimed at Diverting Young People Away From Alcohol or Other Substances

Prevention or at least delaying the consumption of alcohol and substance misuse is advised for young people to prevent or reduce future social and health consequences. Multiple diversionary activities are employed in educating and giving youth the opportunity to make informed decisions regarding their use of alcohol or other substances. This brief report has considered the knowledge base on such diversionary activities.

CERGA Brief Topic Review on Diversionary.

Click here to download document (Word Document 43kb)

Alcohol Consumption During Opiate Replacement Therapy

Anecdotal evidence from drug treatment services across Scotland indicates alcohol use often increases during opiate replacement treatment (ORT).  This rapid topic review sought to consider the published literature which measured alcohol use at treatment intake and follow-up to determine whether levels of alcohol consumption change upon initiation of ORT.

Click here to download (108kb PDF)

Constipation and Gastrointestinal (GI) Symptoms in People using Methadone

Constipation, nausea and vomiting are frequently listed as side effects of opioids (Benyamin et al. 2008). These brief topic reviews sought to review the published literature which looked at the prevalence of constipation, GI symptoms in people using methadone.

Click here for document (Word Document 44kb)

Click here for document (Word Document 36kb)

The Return of Patients to Primary Care

This rapid literature review approached the research question ?What evidence is there to support the transfer of stable methadone patients to primary care prescribing??  The evidence found, indicated that for stable patients, the positive results of treatment were similar whether it occurred in a specialist clinic or a primary care setting.

Click here to download (Adobe Acrobat Document, 198kb)

Neuroelectric Therapy in Opiate Detoxification

Click here to download (Word document, 64kb)

Mentalisation-Based Therapy (MBT) – Is there an evidence base for its use in the field of substance misuse

Mentalization based treatment (MBT) has an evidence base for treatment of people with borderline personality disorders.  CERGA was able to draw some information from this setting.  There are various agencies that apply this technique to substance misuse treatment in the UK and overseas.  However CERGA found no publications as yet regarding these projects and will review the topic again when such evaluations become available.

Click here to download (Word Document, 33kb) – 28/02/2013

Interventions Aimed at Controlling Antisocial Behaviour Associated with On-Sale Alcohol Establishments

Click here to download document (Word Document, 52kb)

-CERGA December 2011

Effectiveness of interventions for young people with illicit drug problems

Click here to download document (Word Document, 56kb)

-CERGA October 2011

Benzodiazepine Detoxification during Opiate Replacement Treatment

Click here to download document (Word Document, 36kb)

-CERGA October 2011

Complementary and Alternative Therapies (CAT) in Drug Dependence

Click here to download document (Word Document, 56kb)

-CERGA May 2011

Fast response services for those with a short history of drug use

Click here to download document (Word Document, 45kb)

-CERGA January 2010

CERGA Brief Topic Review: Take Home Naloxone and Overdose Prevention Training for Drug Users

Click here to download document (Word document, 84kb)

-CERGA July 2009

Review of the Evidence for Clinical Management of Psychostimulant Dependence

Click here to download document. (Word document, 39kb)

-CERGA May 2008

CERGA assessment of a brief review of the evidence for harm reduction through injecting paraphernalia use

Click here to download document (Word document, 43kb)


Alcohol Brief Interventions

Click here to download document (Word document, 116kb)


Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for Drug or Alcohol Dependence

Click here to download (Word document, 63kb)


Lofexidine in Opiate Withdrawal

NHS Grampian Substance Misuse Specialist Pharmacists have undertaken a review of their protocol for of the use of Lofexidine to control symptoms in opiate withdrawal.  CERGA conducted a literature search to provide the evidence base for the protocol.  The protocol will be published in due course Interested parties can receive a copy of the search results on request.


Click here for information on QT interval screening in methadone maintenance treatment: a findings paper


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