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C63. The role of the addictions nurse specialist: Is it disappearing? A view from the UK frontline

C63. The role of the addictions nurse
specialist: Is it disappearing?
A view from the UK frontline

Learner category:

  • Beginning Level
  • Novice Level
  • Intermediate Level
  • Expert Level

Learning objectives:

  • Participants will gain an understanding of the state of
    play with respect to addiction nursing roles within the
  • Participants will learn about the challenges facing the
    career development of addiction nurses in the UK
  • Participants will learn about the initial findings of a
    qualitative study exploring the ‘voice of the addiction
    nurse’ and historical perspectives on this role


Addictions nursing practice and care has a rich history since the
advent of formal services for the treatment of substance use
disorders, yet there is still no universally agreed role definition,
standard scope of practice, or certification process in the UK.
Despite multiple accounts of how nurses innovated, broke down
barriers, and advanced the treatment and recovery agenda, the
value of the addictions nurse specialist role has in recent times
been threaten, as NHS addiction services are decommissioned,
or transferred into non-traditional non-statutory sectors.
This presentation will discuss the challenges currently facing
addictions nurses as they seek to identify, protect, and advocate
for their place within the pull and push of policy and structural
changes. The authors will present highlights from a qualitative
survey of ‘expert addiction nurses’ on factors which may have
accounted for how addiction nursing is currently perceived,
and invite participants to engage in a wider piece of work that is
currently exploring the experience of nurses in relation to their
preparation and engagement in working with problematic
substance use in their respective countries.


Dr Carmel Clancy, PhD, RN, ICAPII

Professor of Addictions and Mental Health at Middlesex
University and Head of School, School of Health and Education

Dr Betsy Thom PhD

Professor of Health Policy at Middlesex University where she is a
co-director of the Drugs and Alcohol Research Centre

Dr Anne Whittaker PhD, RN

Professor of Nursing and a clinical academic in applied
substance use and mental health research, based in the
Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions (NMAHP)
Research Unit, which is part of the Faculty of Health Sciences
and Sport. The NMAHP Research Unit is one of six research units
in Scotland funded by the Chief Scientist Office (CSO), in the
Scottish Government Health Directorate

Dr Fizz Annand PhD, MSc

Qualified as a social worker in 1992, gained a Diploma in
Drug and Alcohol Studies at the Centre for Drugs and Health
Behaviour, Imperial College, completed her MSc in Drug use;
evidence based policy and intervention at Imperial College in
2005, authoring a research dissertation on the development
and implementation of crack house closure legislation, and
gained her Phd with Middlesex University was gained in 2014.
The research project was: ‘Developing and delivering local level
partnership schemes with the alcohol trade: A governmental

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