Daily news -12th October 2017

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UK news

Pregabalin: Spending on 'new valium' greater in north

Prescribing rates for a valium-like drug linked to 111 deaths in a year vary widely across England, BBC analysis suggests. Monthly spending on prescriptions containing pregabalin was 88% higher in the North East and 83% higher in the North West than in London | BBC, UK

NICE to back use of e-cigarettes in new smoking cessation guidance

In the guidance, published last month, NICE said: ‘Some smokers have found them helpful to quit smoking cigarettes and there is currently little evidence on the long-term benefits or harms of 15 these products.’ | Pulse Today, UK

‘My GP says I drink too much’: screening and brief intervention

In the absence of greater obstacles to availability, widespread screening to identify and then briefly advise risky drinkers has been the great hope for improved alcohol-related public health. This major hot topic update guides you through the studies which exposed questionable effectiveness and patchy implementation, leading to today’s less ambitious plans | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Understanding the pathway: barriers to data collection and onward referral to specialist hepatitis C services for PWID in London (PDF)

These recommendations reflect those made by the LJWG in its publication Commissioning of hepatitis C (HCV) services in London for People Who Inject Drugs report from 2013i (1) suggesting that there is still significant action and progress needed to increase access to HCV treatment | LJWG, UK

Drugs: Misuse

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what discussions his Department has had with the Ministry of Justice on making drugs policy a responsibility of his Department | They work for you, UK

Drug Treatment Services

What assessment he has made of the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs on the level of funding for drug treatment services | They work for you, UK

Legalisation of Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes)

I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to allow the production, supply, possession and use of cannabis and cannabis resin for medicinal purposes; | They work for you, UK

Victoria Derbyshire Show - iPlayer

[Watch from 35 mins] A powerful look at the scale of heroin abuse in the UK and new research that could help couples hit by miscarriages, by focusing on the man's health rather than the woman's | BBC, UK

Lib Dem MP admits she 'did inhale' as bill to legalise cannabis is introduced to Parliament 

A Liberal Democrat MP has joked about taking drugs as she joined demonstrators calling for the legalisation of cannabis at a “tea party” outside of Parliament | Telegraph, UK

Hundreds of People Consumed Weed in Front of Parliament

We spoke to the individuals responsible for the pro-medical cannabis demonstration | VICE, UK

Why Drugs Cause Women More Harm

Fewer women use drugs than men, but more are dying as a result of substance misuse | VICE, UK

Scotch whisky sales plummet after Government hikes tax on spirits

The Treasury takes home 80 per cent of the cost of a bottle of Scotch | Independent, UK

Will hangover-free alcohol ever be a reality?  

Prosecco fans celebrating reports of a “hangover-free” version of the popular sparkling wine might want to put that cork back in the bottle | Telegraph, UK

Fifty years of the breathalyser – the 'green crystals' that saved countless lives

On the 8th October 1967, a Shropshire driver had the dubious distinction of being the first motorist to be subjected to a roadside breath test in the UK | Telegraph, UK

Manchester homeless man's shock at Spice use in city

A homeless man returning to Manchester has told how rough sleepers he knows have been turned into "skeletons" by the drug Spice | BBC, UK

Courier caught in £400,000 cocaine raid

An unemployed man accepted £300 to transport cocaine worth more than £400,000 between Glasgow and Dundee, a court has heard | BBC, UK

Love Island stars blasted in House of Lords for smoking

Liberal Democrat, Lord Storey accused ITV and the contestants in the villa of glamorising smoking | BBC, UK



International news

Shocking map shows what drugs people are injecting state by state

America’s uncontrollable and growing drug crisis has been illustrated in a map showing what people are shooting up state to state | Metro, UK

Dubai indecency accused's jail term for drinking alcohol and 'rude gesture'

A Scot accused of public indecency in Dubai has been sentenced to a month in jail for drinking alcohol in the country and "making a rude gesture" | BBC, UK

Duterte pulls police off controversial drugs crackdown

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has demoted the country's police from leading his drugs war, amid growing criticism of the bloody crackdown | BBC, UK

Thailand bans smoking on tourist beaches

Thailand is banning smoking on numerous beaches across the country, including in tourist hotspot Phuket | Independent, UK

Free Event. Young People & Substance Use in a Digital Age

A one-day conference examining the issue of Young People and Substance Use in a Digital Age. Tue 7 November 2017. 09:30 – 15:30 GMT. Galway, Ireland | Western Region Drug & Alcohol Task Force, Ireland

Study identifies a brain pathway involved in drug relapse after cessation of contingency management

A team of researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has identified what may be the crucial brain circuit involved in relapse to drug use when an effective behavioral treatment for drug addiction, known as contingency management, is discontinued | NIDA, USA

Smokers with high psychological distress are smoking less and more are trying to quit

Cigarette smokers with high levels of psychological distress are often heavy smokers, and thus identified as a "hard core" group who are less willing or able to quit than other smokers | Medical Xpress, USA

Opioid epidemic renews debate over supervised injection sites

Sharon, a 49-year-old former nurse from Long Island, first injected heroin around 2000: an escape from painkiller withdrawal after a cancer surgery. “It was amazing,” she recalls. “It was like the best feeling I ever had.” | NYPost, USA

Anatomy of an Opioid Overdose Outbreak: How One Georgia Doctor Sounded the Alarm

It began with an admission from an overdosing patient delivered in what Dr. Gregory Whatley would later recall as "the slightest of a whisper." | NBC news, USA

'Stigma keeps people silenced': Fighting substance abuse and overdoses one program at a time

As substance abuse and overdoses continue to spike nationally and locally, several Lake County agencies and organizations will present an awareness forum on the issue in Lake Zurich later this month | Chicago Tribune, USA

Philippine lawyers ask Supreme Court to halt 'illegal' war on drugs

The government’s directive for the fierce 15-month-old crackdown permits police to “negate” and “neutralise” targets, effectively granting them a license to kill suspected users and dealers, without gathering evidence or building a case, the lawyers said | Reuters, USA

Older adults and new casinos: Do gambling expectations relate to problems?

The opening of a new casino can have a significant impact on the local community’s economy and rate of gambling participation. Because of the potential for community-level changes, it is also important to consider possible individual-level changes, especially among at-risk groups such as older adults | BASIS, USA

Gabapentin, opioids, and the risk of opioid-related death: A population-based nested case–control study

Prescription opioid use is highly associated with risk of opioid-related death, with 1 of every 550 chronic opioid users dying within approximately 2.5 years of their first opioid prescription | PLOSOne, Canada

Bitter pill to swallow as 11 party goers overdose in Newcastle

Newcastle police are investigating the spread of a dangerous new drug that caused a mass overdose on the weekend | Age, Australia

ACT laws need changing to protect pill testing facilitators at Spilt Milk, lawyer says

A Canberra lawyer has expressed concern pill testing could lead to criminal charges | Age, Australia

WA health minister 'backflips' on support for prescription drug

The Australian Medical Association WA has accused the state's health minister of backflipping on his promise to support prescription-only access to codeine products | Age, Australia

University of Newcastle gets $2.5 million to set up national medicinal cannabis research centre

Newcastle will lead the national approach to research into medicinal cannabis treatments | Illawarra Mercury, Australia

Prison alternative leads to sharp drop in re-offending rates, new figures reveal

New court orders diverting offenders from prison and into community-based supervision and treatment programs are more effective at reducing re-offending rates than prison sentences, according to groundbreaking new research | Age, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

Drug recovery wings undermined by poor resettlement support

Research led by the University of York found that many prisoners experienced a ‘cliff edge’, receiving little or no professional support in the weeks preceding or following release, and were housed in inappropriate hostels or funded B&Bs where drugs and prostitution were rife | Russell Webster, UK

No laughing matter: how the anti-nitrous oxide campaign is a disingenuous waste of time and money

Nitrous oxide has returned to our headlines - last month two possession with intent to supply Crown Court cases collapsed and this week the 2016 mortality figures were released. The cases were brought forward under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 (PSA) and fell apart when both judges ruled that nitrous oxide was in fact exempt from the legislation | Drug Science Blog, UK

Drug Addiction Services: what is the policy?

We are currently in Belfast experiencing a significant increase in the number of people with drug addictions and I’m informed that similar rises in prevalence are occurring elsewhere.  In addiction things are never simple | Slugger O'Toole, UK