The Department of Health has published the 2017 version of Drug misuse and dependence—UK guidelines on clinical management, also known as the ‘Orange Book’.

Last revised in 2007, the Orange Book provides guidance for clinicians on the management and treatment of people who misuse or are dependent on using illegal, illicit, or controlled drugs. The guidance, mostly based on current evidence and professional consensus around how to provide drug treatment for the majority of patients, focuses on provision of support to people requiring treatment but will also be useful for commissioning services targeted at treating drug misuse and dependency.

The updates introduced are designed to address developments in evidence and demand for treatments, with a stronger emphasis on recovery and holistic interventions to support patient recovery. The 2017 update also includes new guidelines on:

  • prison-based treatment
  • new psychoactive substances and club drugs
  • mental health co-morbidity
  • misuse of prescribed and over-the-counter medicines
  • stopping smoking
  • preventing drug-related deaths, including naloxone provision.

The Orange Book covers the following main areas:

  • essential elements of treatment provision
  • psychosocial components of treatment
  • pharmacological interventions
  • treatment in the criminal justice system
  • related health considerations (e.g. bloodborne infections or smoking)
  • specific treatment situations and populations (e.g. treatment for people with co-existing mental health problems or during pregnancy).