Valuable viewing

George Allan finds FEAD to be a website worth saving.

The recent demise of Lifeline calls into question the continued existence of the Film Exchange on Alcohol and Drugs (FEAD). This website ( was set up in 2008 by Lifeline as a platform for sharing the experience and knowledge of central figures in the field. The site has never received significant publicity, which is a shame as it contains a wealth of material which can both educate and challenge.

The site contains two types of video. Firstly, there are clips of individual ‘talking heads’ presenting their views on aspects of theory, policy or service provision. These usually last less than five minutes, ensuring that presenters concentrate on the core of their arguments. Secondly, the site includes full presentations from conferences run by organisations such as UK SMART Recovery, the New Directions in the Study of Alcohol Group and Scotland’s Futures Forum.



The richness, depth and variety of the ground covered is impressive. Here you will find such diverse inputs as Nick Heather on the confusion between moderating alcohol consumption and controlled drinking, Joy Barlow on early work with drug-using mothers and John Davies on how ‘addiction’ is socially constructed and the implications of this for treatment and policy.

The opinions expressed cannot fail to enlighten, inspire or provoke. The viewer may be surprised. If you think you can guess what Neil McKeganey’s attitudes towards supervised injecting facilities might be, or David Best’s views of risk reduction approaches, then you may have to reconsider. The site was established around the time when ‘recovery’ was emerging as a contentious issue and this has ensured that the topic is given a good airing. While a neat definition continues to elude us, the views of such luminaries as William White, Griffith Edwards and Annette Dale-Perera help to shed light on a slippery concept.

Fifteen minutes on the site is guaranteed to encourage viewers to step back from immediate pressures and immerse themselves in aspects of the bigger picture. As teaching aids the short videos are invaluable. The material is also an important historical record: for this reason alone, it is essential that the site continues and it is hoped that another organisation will take it over and maintain and develop it.

George Allan is chair of Scottish Drugs Forum. He is the author of Working with Substance Users: A Guide to Effective Interventions (2014; Palgrave).