Cutting edge research to improve services

The Aspire joined forces with research teams in Yorkshire and the USA in a bid to improve services for people experiencing drug and alcohol problems.

Our Aspire service, which is run in partnership with Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), is working with The University of Sheffield, The University of North Carolina and the RDaSH Grounded Research team on a two year Behavioural Activation (BA) study.

The research trial which focuses on the effects of causational substance use and depression has recruited 33 of Aspire’s service users who match the research criteria. Behavioural Therapists at Aspire will run the study supported by Professor Stacey Daughters from the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina, Dr Jamie Delgadillo, RDaSH Clinical Research Fellow in Wellbeing, and Sophie Pott, Study Coordinator from The University of Sheffield.

Professor Daughters said: “Higher levels of depression and low levels of enjoyment from daily non-substance activities are a hallmark characteristic of substance use disorder.  Yet current treatment approaches do not emphasis strategies aimed at increasing peoples’ ability to experience reward.

“Behavioural Activation does just that and it works! BA has demonstrated success in reducing depressive symptoms, increasing environmental reward, and reducing the likelihood of return to substance use up to one year following treatment. To do so, BA practitioners help people systematically identify, plan, and execute daily engagement in value-driven substance-free activities.

“People are encouraged to plan only those activities that have a high likelihood of success in order to increase their daily experience of positive reinforcement. Over time, people learn to associate substance-free activities with feelings of accomplishment and positive affect, thereby increasing the likelihood of sustaining these new habits.”

Stuart Green, Aspire Service Manager, said: “Being involved in this type of research puts us at the forefront of trialling new treatment interventions and patterns of care for people who use our services in the future. It shows our commitment to give everyone in our community the best possible care delivered in the right place.”

Left to Right: Sophie Pott, Study Coordinator; with Steve Mitchell, Frankee White and Gill Stanley, BA Therapists at Aspire Drug and Alcohol Services

Published 25th February 2020

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