project . 2014 - 2017 . Closed

New Psychoactive Substances and Human Enhancement Drugs: new policy and practitioner landscapes

UK Research and Innovation
Funder: UK Research and InnovationProject code: ES/M002330/1
Funded under: ESRC Funder Contribution: 28,488 GBP
Status: Closed
15 Dec 2014 (Started) 14 Jan 2017 (Ended)

Rising levels of NPS/HED have been observed around the globe as new technologies for their advertisement and dissemination have developed. The Coalition Government in the UK, and international bodies and institutions around the world, have called for a focus on developing policies that limit their harm and implementing strategies that help to appraise users of their potential risks: they have widely been described as the new challenge facing both policymakers and practitioners. Despite the prioritisation of this issue, a coherent and extensive social research agenda in this area that seeks to evaluate policies and their consequences, critically assess official discourses and explore the needs and experiences of users does not yet exist. Without this evidence base it is impossible for policymakers to make informed decisions or practitioners to implement standards of best practice. It is the intention of this seminar series to bring academics from many social research related disciplines and working at many different levels together with practitioners and policymakers to develop and shape, in partnership, a social research agenda on NPS and HED that will, in turn, be used to inform both policy and practice. This partnership will be effected by bringing together a strong UK based network of NPS/HED related social researchers and social research users and by creating a forum within which they can engage in dialogue, exchange ideas and perspectives, develop their conceptualisations of the challenges posed by NPS/HED, jointly shape policy and research agendas, and drive forward new research collaborations and strategies. To ensure the diversity of the network and the breadth of its reach, academics from a variety of social research disciplines (criminology, sociology, substance use/abuse epidemiology, child care, health sciences, criminal justice and public policy) and at different stages of their career will be included; similarly, policymakers and practitioners from a variety of backgrounds (governmental/non-governmental; law enforcement/treatment), as well as media representatives and users themselves, will participate in the overall network. While NPS/HED is a problem that is significant in its effect in the UK in particular, it is an issue that is being experienced around the globe and thus, where appropriate, international scholars and policymakers have been asked to contribute to the debates and join the 'core pool' of participants so that their experiences can also be acknowledged. The seminar series will take the format of 6 half day seminars related to social research on NPS/HED: new policy directions; supply and demand; psychopharmacology; law enforcement; risk; and treatment, community developments and harm reduction. It will be attended by 40 participants drawn from the 'core pool' of participants, other interested local parties and those specifically invited by the host institution. It will be accompanied by a suite of online resources including a dedicated blog and discussion forum that will widen participation to those members of the 'core pool' unable to attend seminars in person, those working in related disciplines that are not members of the 'core pool' and those from the international arena. Our work will be consolidated by our final 3 day event which aims to maximise the impact of existing research outcomes and inspire new research collaborations.

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