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MDX academics will support two major government funded projects tackling drug use

Academics will work with a charity which delivers drugs education in schools and a large outreach service for young people

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Two projects designed to reduce drug use among young people which will work with Middlesex University academics have been given a government cash boost.

The National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) Innovation Fund has now awarded significant funding to five projects across the country aimed at reducing demand for illicit substances, including the two involving experts from MDX’s Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

These schemes were awarded £734,000 from the first allocation of a £5 million grant, with the remaining funding available across two further phases.

“We are delighted that the Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at Middlesex University is part of two of the funded projects from the first phase of this NIHR Innovation Fund to reduce drug use. This gives us the opportunity to work with service provider partners to develop and evaluate what works to reduce drug demand and drug-related harm for young people. This builds on our past research on prevention of polydrug use among young people in the criminal justice system.” Karen Duke, a Professor of Criminology at Middlesex University.

MDX researchers will work with the South East-based Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation, a charity which delivers drug education programmes in UK secondary schools.

The research will help to develop and refine various components of the existing programme including Theatre in Education, student workshops, teacher training, drug education lessons, workshops for parents and carers, and Youth Ambassadors.

The MDX team includes Professor Betsy Thom, Professor Karen Duke, Dr Camille Alexis-Garsee and Dr Rachel Herring working in partnership with Fiona Spargo-Mabbs and Caz Heath from the DSM Foundation and Nicci Parish from Billy and Beyond.

In another project, MDX will work in partnership with Change, Grow, Live, a national health and social care charity.

The research will help to develop their outreach service for young people and young adults aged 16-25 in Derbyshire. This unique programme includes several elements – responsive outreach, education programmes, a van and pop-up pod at festivals/events, digital interventions and training for staff in the night-time economy.

Zoë Welch, Head of Research, at Change Grow Live said the charity in partnership with Middlesex University was “delighted to have the support of the NIHR Innovation Fund”.

MDX academics involved are Prof Karen Duke, Prof Betsy Thom, and Dr Arun Sondhi working with Zoe Welch, Lauren Stewart, Alex Melaugh and Katy Hughes from Change Grow Live.

The Department of Health and Social Care and the Home Office based Joint Combating Drugs Unit selected the NIHR to lead the research bidding process.

The other projects also awarded funding by NIHR in the first phase are based in Huddersfield, Manchester, and Dorset. Health Minister Neil O’Brien said “stopping drug use in its tracks is essential to protecting people and the community from the harms caused by addiction, which has devastating impacts”.

He said the projects will lead the way for new research into preventing drug addiction. For more information about the funding visit the UK Gov website.

Find out more about the Middlesex University Drugs and Alcohol Research Centre:

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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