Daily news - 16th April 2021

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UK news

Families need cannabis prescriptions support, say MPs and peers

The treatment was made legal with a prescription in 2018 for those with an "exceptional clinical need". But a cross-party letter from 100 politicians says only three NHS prescriptions have been given out since, forcing families to spend thousands on private treatments | BBC, UK

Magic mushroom compound performs as well as antidepressant in small study

Psilocybin, the active compound in magic mushrooms, may be at least as effective as a leading antidepressant medication in a therapeutic setting | Imperial College London, UK

Lib Dems: SNP has a record of neglect over drugs deaths

Willie Rennie says his party will 'reduce the misery of drug abuse with compassion and health treatment' | STV, UK

Covid stress leads to increase in smoking numbers – survey

The stress of Covid-19 has fuelled Britain’s nicotine habit, with more than half of smokers “stress-smoking” more, and 10% lighting up again after quitting, a survey suggests | ITV, UK

Development of central precocious puberty following cannabinoid use for paediatric epilepsy: causal or coincidence?

A 2-year-old boy presented with testicular enlargement, increased penile length and growth of coarse pubic hair developing over 6 months. His mother procured cannabidiol oil online, which he started taking 7 months earlier for severe epilepsy refractory to medical management | BMJ Case Reports, UK

Club Drug Clinic

Updated site. The Club Drug Clinic is a service for people who have begun to experience problems with their use of recreational drugs | NHS.uk, UK

‘Optics are awful’: MPs to be allowed to drink at Westminster again

Fears that resumption of alcohol sales, restricted due to Covid, will incentivise return to Commons | Guardian, UK

Drones spied on illegal phones to help police smash prison crime ring

[Limited number of free articles per week] Craft targeted surge in illegal phones and drugs thrown over walls of a jail containing high number of organised crime group offenders | Telegraph, UK

'They Stabbed Me For a Laugh' – Surge in Drug Dealers Taking Over People's Homes

Wider group of people are falling victim to “cuckooing”, driven by rising social isolation and poverty | VICE, UK

High Sheriff of West Sussex, Dr Tim Fooks, learns how the Wiston Estate is helping ex-offenders

The High Sheriff of West Sussex, Dr Tim Fooks, in his weekly briefing, meets an ex-offender who has turned his life around and learns how he is helping the charity Making it Out renovate a barn on the Wiston Estate, near Steyning | West Sussex County Times, UK

Workshop webinar: Hepatitis C outreach

Thu, 20 May 2021, 11:00 – 12:30 BST. This webinar will look at hepatitis C outreach, including 'pop-up' clinics and testing vans, with presentations and breakout groups | HCV Action, UK

Eastbourne fire: Mum and son, 4, 'killed in drugs-debt' house blaze

Gina Ingles, 34, and her son Milo Ingles-Bailey died in July 2018 at their Eastbourne home. Ms Ingles' partner Toby Jarrett was also injured | BBC, UK


International news

Tobacco Harm Reduction - A Burning Issue for Asia

Knowledge Action Change (KAC) and the Association of Vapers India (AVI) invite you to take part in the launch of the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction’s latest briefing | KAC, UK

An end to cigarettes? New Zealand aims to create smoke-free generation

Proposals include making sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2004 illegal | Guardian, UK

Why US opioid deaths are rising because of Covid

Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that 88,000 people had died from drug overdoses in the 12 month period ending in August 2020 - an increase of 27% on the previous year | BBC, UK

Officials Say Croatian Port Appears to be New Entry Point for Drugs

Croatian police confiscated nearly 600 kilograms of cocaine concealed in a shipment of bananas that arrived from South America to the Adriatic port of Ploče. Officials say that with increased controls in ports in Western and Northern Europe, organized crime seems to be looking for alternative routs in the south of the continent | OCCRP, UK

New HRB overview presents latest research on alcohol consumption, harm and policy in Ireland

The HRB has found that while alcohol consumption levels in Ireland have plateaued since 2013, people’s consumption remains significantly higher than the Government’s 2020 target of no more than 9.1 litres of pure alcohol per person a year. In 2019, on average every person in Ireland aged 15 and over drank 10.8 litres of pure alcohol a year – the equivalent of either 40 bottles of vodka, 113 bottles of wine or 436 pints of beer. Given one in four people in Ireland don’t drink at all, actual consumption rates among those who do drink would be much higher than this | HRB, Ireland

Reducing harm due to alcohol: success stories from 3 countries

The WHO-recommended “best buys” for alcohol policy can easily help countries to reduce health harms related to alcohol consumption. But according to the new WHO/Europe report “Making the WHO European Region SAFER. Developments in alcohol control policies, 2010–2019”, not many Member States use these measures. Experience from Lithuania, Scotland and the Russian Federation shows how effective they can be when countries choose to implement them | WHO, Denmark

Data on the Impact of COVID-19 on Drug Markets Presented on the Sidelines of the CND

As the 64th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) continues, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to engage in joint efforts to recover better, have been present throughout both the plenary and the side events | UNODC, Austria

In this issue: School-based programmes to improve mental health and well-being and reduce risks

In our latest Best Practice Portal update, we highlight the results of recent systematic reviews on school interventions addressing the mental health and well-being of young people | EMCDDA, Portugal

COVID-19 reduces access to opioid dependency treatment for new patients

COVID-19 has been associated with increases in opioid overdose deaths, which may be in part because the pandemic limited access to buprenorphine, a treatment used for opioid dependency, according to a new study led by Princeton University researchers | Princeton University, USA

Prescribing of Opioid Analgesics and Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 How has prescribing of opioid analgesics and buprenorphine for opioid use disorder changed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic? | JAMA Network, USA

Drug Users Welcome: An Oklahoma City Shelter’s Encouraging Approach

On April 6, Oklahoma City opened its only low-threshold night shelter for people experiencing homelessness. With 140 beds, including some for families, City Care Night Shelter’s goal is to welcome folks to come and stay as many nights as they need | Filter Magazine, USA

The Mission to Save Lives by Deciphering Philly’s Volatile Drug Supply

Conditions in the Kensington neighborhood of North Philadelphia, where I’ve reported for years, stand as a rebuke to a litany of drug policy failures | Filter Magazine, USA

‘Outdated War On Drugs Playbook’: Liberals Fume Over Biden Decision On Fentanyl

Congress and the Biden administration appear set to extend a Trump administration decision to impose harsher penalties on drug crimes | Huffignton Post, USA

Government of Canada supports first of its kind safer supply project in Toronto

Government also extends two existing safer supply projects in Toronto to continue saving lives | CISION Newswire, Canada

Activists Give Out Free Heroin and Meth as Vancouver Proposes Legal Limits for Drugs

Earlier this week Vancouver put forward a proposal to Health Canada that would decriminalize a three day supply of drugs | VICE, Canada

How changing income assistance payment schedules impact drug use and related harm

A study published this week in The Lancet Public Health examines how we can use our income assistance systems to address drug use and drug-related harm | EurekAlert, Canada

New app aims to combat overdose deaths

Under the Covid-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis in Canada has itself become an epidemic | Toronto Star, Canada

Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia

The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a major cause of preventable disease, illness and death in Australia. This report consolidates the most recent information on the availability and consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia, and related impacts, harms and treatment | AIHW, Australia

Opioids the underlying cause of Australian drug-induced deaths in 2019

The latest Drug Trends report from UNSW Sydney’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre reveals there were 1865 drug-induced deaths in 2019, with a shift to more deaths involving heroin than natural and semi-synthetic opioids | UNSW, Australia

Medical association calls on government to help doctors dealing with addicted patients

The chair of general practice at the Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association says doctors need more on-the-spot support to help patients addicted to drugs and alcohol | abc.net.au, Australia

FreshLeaf reveals medicinal cannabis report

FreshLeaf Analytics has released a comprehensive report on the current status of the Australian medicinal cannabis market | Hospital and Healthcare, Australia

Smokefree New Zealand: Government looks at limiting nicotine, age restrictions in 2025 goal

The Government is suggesting limiting the amount of nicotine allowed in cigarettes. It is one of a number of proposals being put forward to meet its goal of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025 | NZ Herald, New Zealand



Blogs, comment and opinion

Drink Wise Age Well stories

After 6 years the Drink Wise Age Well programme is ending. These are the stories of people supported by the project | We Are With You, UK

The truth about magic mushrooms and depression

Shrooms could have benefits over antidepressants, new research has found, but psychedelics come with other barriers | Independent voices, UK

Handbook of Medical Hallucinogens: Celebrating Psychedelics' Therapeutic Potential

The Handbook of Medical Hallucinogens celebrates the thriving and diversifying field of psychedelic therapeutic research. It signposts many different promising lines for further enquiry, including treatment development for depressive disorders, substance dependancy and addiction, and headache conditions | CDPRG blog, UK

MICHAEL MARRA: Dundee deserves better than a government with its eye off the ball on drugs deaths

In the decade before lockdown 447 of our friends, neighbours, old classmates, our cousins, nephews, nieces, our sons and daughters and parents had been lost | The Courier, UK

Calorie labels on alcohol

The government is considering mandating calorie labels on alcoholic beverages. This is an anti-obesity push rather than an anti-drinking initiative. It is an extension of the plan to force food outlets to put calorie counts on their food menus | Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, UK

As England enters a world of pre-booked fun, spare a thought for the disorganised

The go-getting advance bookers already have so much. Can’t they leave the rest of us to our spontaneous little nights out? | Guardian, UK

Serious And Organised Crime

Europol threat assessment shows that the trade in illegal drugs is the main driver to most organised crime groups | Russell Webster, UK