NHSChoicesFRANKWired In

Sign up for email updates


News & events




NTA issues ‘free mapping’ tool to prison drug workers

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA) has issued all prisons in England with a toolkit to help health specialists provide vital talking therapies for inmates seeking to quit drugs. 

Node-link mapping was first designed to help students take better notes during lengthy college lectures.  Now the NTA has adapted the technique to help drug workers when counselling prisoners and has funded 1,000 kits for issue to prisons in England.

Copies of the kit for use by drug workers in the community can be downloaded for free at the NTA's website

NTA Chief Executive Paul Hayes said:

"The NTA works with partners in drug treatment, health, councils, police, prisons, probation and social services to move people as quickly and safely as possible through treatment to recovery and re-integration in their local community.

"Psychological and social interventions are central to recovery and tools like this are proven and effective in supporting better practice and improved interventions in drug treatment."

The prison toolkit is an adaptation of the tried and tested Routes to Recovery mapping tool which is used by clinicians and drug workers in the community.  Based on the premise 'a picture is worth a thousand words' ,the tool offers the prisoner an opportunity to explore issues in their lives in an open, non-confrontational way enabling drug worker and patient to work towards more structured therapy focussing on family, health, offending and to measure change and progress.

There is strong international evidence that when used as part of counselling, the technique increases the effectiveness of drug treatment.  Studies on offenders out on probation in the US found patients stayed off opiates and cocaine for longer, missed fewer therapy sessions and felt more positive about their treatment and their relationship with their key worker.

Rebalancing treatment to support drug free outcomes is a key strand of the new government's revised drug strategy, to be published in December. Its objectives are to prevent drug taking, disrupt drug supply, strengthen enforcement, and promote drug treatment with the focus on enabling people to become free of their addictions, including alcohol, to recover fully and contribute to society.


About the NTA
The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse is a National Health Service (NHS) special health authority established to improve the availability, capacity and effectiveness of drug treatment in England.  We aim to help people overcome their addiction and regain their lives.

We work in partnership with a range of organisations and agencies at national and local levels including government departments, local drug treatment partnerships (the bodies that commission drug treatment), drug treatment services in both the NHS and voluntary sector, service users and carers.

The NTA supports local commissioners to assess the local need for drug treatment and commission an appropriate balance of good quality services to ensure better outcomes for drug mis-users. Information provided by the NDTMS database and the Treatment Outcomes Profile tool provides the means by which services can be held to account by local partnerships and communities.

In line with this the NTA is seeking to refocus the drug treatment system in England on delivering sustained recovery and demonstrating transparent outcomes, while consistently providing more for less.

With thanks to our international collaborators – under the leadership of Professor Dwayne Simpson – from the Texas Christian University, whose partnership has allowed us to transfer technologies to England which have been shown to be effective in the USA and Italy.

For further information please contact Lynne Nasti, Senior Communications Officer (Media), on 020 7972 1920 (business hours) or 07747 535961 (out of hours) or visit our website at www.nta.nhs.uk.

Bookmark and Share