Daily news - 3rd August 2017

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UK news

Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales: 2016 registrations

Latest update on deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales by cause of death, sex, age and substances involved in the death. A backseries of data from 1993 is also included in this publication | ONS, UK

Drug deaths: Cocaine contributes to record number

The number of drug poisoning deaths reached record levels in England and Wales last year, official data shows | BBC, UK

'Trainspotting generation' most likely to die from drug use

Surge in deaths among 40- to 49-year-olds last year helps fuel another record high in drug use deaths | Guardian, UK

Government must 'accept responsibility' for record number of drug deaths as Tory policy fails, say experts

Campaigners condemn Government for ignoring advisory body’s advice on how to protect vulnerable users | Independent, UK

It’s Not Just Heroin: UK Drug Deaths are a Systemic Issue

Statistical releases on drug-related deaths in the UK hold few surprises these days. So, it was with a heavy sense of inevitability that I opened the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) latest update on drug death registrations in England and Wales | Volte Face, UK

Alcohol-related Deaths

In 2016, there were 1,265 alcohol-related deaths, on the basis of the current definition (details available via Alcohol Related Deaths - the Coverage of the Statistics section); an increase of 115 (10%) compared with 2015. This is the highest annual total since 2010, and the third largest annual increase in numbers | NRB Scotland, UK

Doctors warn worrying increase in alcohol-related deaths must prompt action

BMA Scotland has warned that the latest figures published today [Wednesday] by the National Records of Scotland on alcohol-related deaths make it essential that efforts to tackle the harms of alcohol misuse are redoubled | BMA, UK

Scotland: Alcohol-related deaths on the rise again

New statistics from National Records Scotland show that there were 1,265 alcohol-related deaths last year – an increase of 115 (10%) compared with 2015 – representing the highest annual total since 2010 | IAS, UK

Woman whose son died from fentanyl overdose urges crackdown

A mother whose son died from a fentanyl overdose has called for a crackdown on the drug and more education on its dangers | Guardian, UK

The war on drugs 'killed my sons'

As Government figures show, substance abuse deaths have hit record levels. One bereaved mother who lost two sons to heroin tells why she thinks it’s time to legalise and regulate the drugs trade | Independent, UK

Conversations with... Katy MacLeod on NPS use amongst vulnerable populations in Scotland research - video

In this episode, Katy MacLeod, SDF's National Training and Development Officer and lead researcher on the published 'Understanding the patterns of use, motives and harms of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in Scotland' talks to Austin Smith, SDF's Policy and Practice Officer about the report, which was published in December 2016 | SDF, UK

17/53 - Changing drinking behaviours

The Public Health Research Programme are accepting stage 1 applications to their commissioned workstream for this topic | NIHR, UK

Mindful drinking movement: catalysing club soda

From Nudging Pubs to running the UK's first ever alcohol-free drinks Festival, Laura Willoughby FRSA shares how support from an RSA Catalyst Award has helped her venture Club Soda to grow | RSA, UK

IAS Alert July 2017: MUP, liver disease, armed forces, consumption & more

The latest Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) Alcohol Alert: July 2017 is now available | IAS, UK

Queen Elizabeth II drinks 4 cocktails a day, officially making her a binge drinker

According to Margaret Rhodes, the Queen's cousin, HM's alcohol intake never varies. She takes a gin and Dubonnet before lunch, with a slice of lemon and a lot of ice. She will take wine with lunch and a dry Martini and a glass of champagne in the evening | Independent, UK

Industry launches new campaign to crackdown on cigarette smuggling

The Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA), the trade association representing the UK tobacco industry, is looking to crack down on the sale of non-UK duty paid tobacco from high-risk routes into the UK which is then sold on illegally | Herald, UK

Rashan Charles: Item lodged in his throat did not contain illegal drugs, police watchdog says

'The attempt to smear Rashan as somebody involved in drugs was an attempt to assassinate his character,' says anti-racism campaigner | Independent, UK



Organisation responses to latest drug death statistics

RSPH urges investment in harm reduction as drug deaths continue to rise

RSPH has urged the government to reverse swingeing cuts to local authority public health budgets and invest in pragmatic harm reduction measures | RSPH, UK

Drug related deaths highest since records began

Figures are the highest they have ever been, and keep growing. Over half (54%) of all deaths related to drug poisoning in 2016 involved opiates, and the highest rate of drug misuse deaths was in people aged 40-49 years old, overtaking the 30-39 age group | Addaction, UK

Drug Related Deaths in England and Wales 2016. How should we respond? A blog by Jim Armstrong, Director of Marketing and Innovation

Whilst it would be convenient to identify a single simple cause, and some people will propose simple solutions, the reality is that the lives of each of those 3,744 people were undoubtedly complicated | Phoenix Futures, UK

National Statistics Announcement: Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales

John Jolly, Chief Executive of Blenheim, said: “Action and investment in services is urgently required to engage with drug users not in treatment. Sadly, outreach and needle exchanges have been cut back as part of reductions in funding. Unforgivably, a minority of local authorities still refuse to provide naloxone, a life saving antidote to opiate overdose.” | Blenheim, UK

Number of drug-related deaths in England and Wales rises to highest on record, Government must declare public health emergency (PDF)

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released today shows 3,744 drug-related deaths registered in 2016 in England and Wales and a 44% increase on 2012 figures. It is the fourth year in a row that the ONS has registered an increase. 2016 is now the year with the highest number of registered drug-related deaths since records began. Increased mortality rates have been reported across all the main substances of use | Release, UK

Official Stats: UK Government Policy Fuels Record Drug Related Deaths

Martin Powell,Transform Drug Policy Foundation said; “The government must accept responsibility for record numbers of people dying from overdoses year after year. This unacceptably high level of deaths is a direct result of the Home Office’s scandalous approach to drugs | Transform, UK


International news

Will growth in cryptomarket drug buying increase the harms of illicit drugs?

Cryptomarkets—on-line, anonymous market-places for illicit goods and services that specialize mainly in drugs—account for a small but rapidly growing share of the illicit drug market in many countries. Policy re-sponses so far are based generally on the assumption that their rise will only increase drug harms. In this contribution for debate, we question this assumption | Addiction, UK

Ketamine Is a Proven Antidepressant, But Should We Use it?

We speak with the Australian researcher analysing the health risks of using K to fight depression | VICE, UK

Indian Cabinet Minister Maneka Gandhi Proposes Legalising Medical Cannabis

In a meeting of a group of ministers (GOM) in India, the Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, proposed legalising cannabis for medical use. She cited the US as an example where legislation of medical cannabis was an effective measure in harm reduction related to drug use | Volte Face, UK

Dermot Reeve: How cocaine ruined my life

There was a time when Dermot Reeve was one of the golden boys of English cricket | BBC, UK

Increasing risk of drug withdrawal in newborns as US opioid epidemic accelerates

Taking a combination of opioids (strong prescription painkillers) and psychotropic medications (widely used to treat mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression) during pregnancy is associated with a greater risk of drug withdrawal in newborns, finds a study in The BMJ today | Medical Xpress, USA

Gamblers more likely to have suffered childhood traumas, research shows

Men with problem and pathological gambling addictions are more likely to have suffered childhood traumas including physical abuse or witnessing violence in the home, according to new research | Medical Xpress, USA


Blogs, comment and opinion

Drug related deaths are at their highest level in 25 years – here’s why

According to new data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), last year saw the highest number of drug-related deaths since records began in 1993. Over half of these deaths involved an opiate such as heroin. Those aged 40-49 made up the largest group dying as a result of drug poisoning. Compared to the general population, this group are dying decades before they should | Conversation, UK

We already know how to stop people dying from drugs – but the Government refuses to do it

Fewer people are using drugs, but more people are dying than ever | Independent Voices, UK

A fentanyl future?

Today’s report of over 60 deaths last year in which fentanyl was implicated raises major alarm bells in the opioid treatment community. It could be the prelude to a wave of deaths from this synthetic opioid (as is now being seen in the USA), where now most street “heroin” is boosted with fentanyl. So what can, and should, we do about it? | Drug Science Blog, UK

We are a long way from an informed debate on drugs

The key to policy should be harm reduction. Drug abuse – just like alcohol abuse and, indeed tobacco use of any kind – is primarily a medical and health issue rather than a criminal one | Independent editorial, UK

UK drug strategy sounds hollow when the government ignores its own advisers

Its refusal to consider evidence-based interventions such as consumption rooms is discouraging, writes Yasmin Batliwala, chair of drug charity WDP | Guardian letters, UK

Eliminating hepatitis C as a major public health threat - the challenges ahead

Last year, our Hepatitis C in the UK report, focusing on elimination, showed the first fall in deaths from severe hep C-related liver disease in over a decade | PHE Blog, UK

Prescribing opioids and psychotropic drugs in pregnancy

Over the past two decades, increasing use of opioid pain relievers has led to myriad complications in communities throughout the US. In 2015, every 15 minutes one American died from an opioid related overdose—which is more frequent than deaths from vehicle crashes | BMJ Editorial, UK

Opioids: addictive or irreplaceable? As a doctor I urge you to ask more questions

In Australia, 800 people die annually of an opioid overdose. How can patients be sure if they are right in taking them? Here’s what you should know | Guardian CIF, UK

Taking the Addiction Out of Smoking

A lightning bolt struck the tobacco world last Friday when the Food and Drug Administration announced a plan aimed at reducing the nicotine in cigarettes to a nonaddictive level | NYTimes opinion, USA