Daily news - 4th August 2021

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UK news

Deaths related to drug poisoning in England and Wales: 2020 registrations

In 2020, 4,561 deaths related to drug poisoning were registered in England and Wales (equivalent to a rate of 79.5 deaths per million people); this is 3.8% higher than the number of deaths registered in 2019 (4,393 deaths; 76.7 deaths per million) | ONS, UK

Drug poisoning deaths in England and Wales reach record high

Charities warn of a public health emergency after data shows 4,561 deaths in 2020 – up 3.8% on previous year | Guardian, UK

Drugs minister promises action on 'national shame'

Scotland's drugs minister has promised to make tackling drugs deaths a priority", describing the latest figures as a "national shame." However, Angela Constance would not commit to supporting a Right to Recovery Bill being proposed by the Scottish Conservatives | BBC, UK

Drugs Deaths Statement - video

Live coverage of a statement in the Scottish Parliament by drug policy minister Angela Constance on actions being taken to reduce drug deaths in Scotland | BBC, UK

Could drug checking help prevent harms in Scotland?

A team of experts working in partnership with the University of Stirling is exploring how drug checking services could be developed for Scotland in order to reduce harms | University of Stirling, UK

Review of drugs: phase two report

Added a video of the launch event of Dame Carol Black’s independent review of drugs, part 2 | DHSC, UK

Smoking costs UK economy in excess of £19 billion a year, new report finds

Released following World Lung Cancer Day, ILC’s report ”Up in smoke” highlights the costs of smoking not just to individuals’ health, but to the sustainability of the broader healthcare system and to the public purse as the Government aims to “build back better” from the pandemic | International Longevity Centre, UK

Sativex brain tumour trial fundraising launched

A bid to fund a medical trial of a cannabis-based mouth spray in treatment of the most aggressive form of brain tumour has been launched | BBC, UK

First Life Saved

I am an outreach worker for the street team for Streetwork in Edinburgh, it’s part of Simon Community Scotland and my job is to try to guide rough sleepers to access support and try to find a safe place to live | Simon Community Scotland, UK

Ex-gang member turned drug worker is climbing every Scottish Munro in tribute to overdose victims

He also scaled another peak to honour the memory of Angela McLaughlan, sister of local councillor Angela McPhater, who has campaigned for more funding to be made available to tackle the drugs menace in Scotland | Daily Record, UK

I stopped drinking - then baking business turned my life around

Lesley Smith gave up alcohol after years of heavy drinking - then discovered a love of baking that helped turn her life around | BBC, UK

Kevin Molloy's Funeral - video

You can make an online donation to either Pilgrims Hospice or Catching Lives direct. If you would like the family to be informed you have donated in Kevin's memory, please email ruth@kachange.eu. Thank you | GSTHR, UK

Drug dealers jailed after getting car stuck in trolley bay

Asim Akram and Ibrar Hussain were trying to evade police as they crashed at Morrison's in Banbury on 18 May | BBC, UK


International news

Alcohol consumption and harms during COVID-19 in four continents

Tue, 17 August 2021, 11:00 – 12:30 BST. ICARA-led ‘COVID-19 & Substance Use’ webinar. Myths, Lockdowns, Curfews & Bans: Alcohol consumption & harms during COVID-19 in 4 continents | SHAAP, UK

Factsheet – Young people, drugs and alcohol: the Irish situation (PDF)

This factsheet includes key Irish research on young people up to the age of 24, and will be updated as new data is published | HRB, Ireland

€1.4 million for research into medicinal cannabis in epilepsy

The Dutch Ministry of Health has made a grant of 1.4 million euros available for research into the effectiveness of medicinal cannabis in children with treatment-resistant epilepsy. The question to be answered is whether medicinal cannabis reduces the frequency and/or severity of epileptic seizures in children | Bedrocan, The Netherlands

Is reducing opioids for pain patients linked to higher rates of overdose and mental health crisis?

A new study found a 68% increase in overdose events and a doubling of mental health crises among patients who were on stable opioid therapy but had their doses tapered | Science Daily, USA

Social and spatial networks influence HIV and hepatitis transmission in people who inject drugs

The risk of HIV or hepatitis C in people who inject drugs is influenced as much by their social interactions and the venues where they inject as other risk factors, according to a study published today in eLife | Medical Xpress, USA

Saving lives with smoking cessation treatment for patients with depression

A team of scientists estimates that providing patients with depression with the tools to quit smoking could save as many as 125,000 lives over the next 80 years. That number jumps to 203,000 when extended to people with depression who are not yet in mental health care settings | Medical Xpress, USA

Accurate knowledge of a Good Samaritan law among people who use drugs

People who use illicit drugs (PWUD) are likely to experience or witness a drug overdose event but report hesitancy in involving emergency services for fear of legal repercussions | BASIS, USA

CDC recommends mobile, street harm reduction services to curb HIV outbreak in Kanawha Co.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday the use of mobile, one-stop shop harm reduction services to help curb rapid HIV transmission in Kanawha County | WSAZ, USA

Fentanyl and benzo test strips now available at harm reduction sites

Clients of both Prairie Harm Reduction (PHR) and the Newo Yotina Friendship Centre will now be able to make sure their drugs don’t have fentanyl or benzodiazepine — more commonly known as benzo | CKOM, USA

“Alarmingly High” Number of US Doctors Think Nicotine Causes Cancer

More than 75 percent of US physicians wrongly believe that nicotine directly contributes to the development of cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD), a new study shows | Filter Magazine, USA

Biden Administration Announces Grant to Develop “Model” Drug Laws

On August 2, the Biden administration announced a grant program to help develop better drug laws. It is awarding money for harm reduction research to create “model” legislation for state governments to draw on | Filter Magazine, USA

Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Takes Effect

Marijuana decriminalization took effect in Louisiana on August 1—and advocates and lawmakers are working to ensure that residents know what they can and cannot do without going to jail under the new law | Filter Magazine, USA

Health Canada Launches National Call for Proposals for the Substance Use and Addictions Program

Funding will help communities address the overdose crisis and problematic substance use | Government of Canada

Calgary lawyer takes on Purdue Pharma to collect opioid-related costs for Canadian cities

Bankruptcy plan offers billions to U.S. states, cities and tribes but nothing to Canadian governments | CBC News, Canada

Education about changes to vaping is needed: TCCI

E-cigarettes will become prescription only in October this year, leading Tasmania's peak business organisation to call for greater education on vaping as a way to quit smoking | Examiner, Australia

Public awareness and attitudes towards political donations from the alcohol industry

Retail closures and recurrent, sometimes prolonged lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have seen shifts in patterns of alcohol and other drug use in Australia, in part reflecting attempts by the deep-pocketed lobbying industry to capitalise on and capture the evolving social milieu | Croaky Health Media, Australia

Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction - newsletter

This monthly newsletter shares the latest news and updates from the UNSW Medicine Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction Theme and Maridulu Budyari Gumal - SPHERE Clinical Academic Group (CAG) | UNSW, Australia

First company gains licence to manufacture medical cannabis

Helius Therapeutics has become the first New Zealand company to gain approval from Medsafe to begin manufacturing medicinal cannabis | Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

With You responds to new ONS statistics which show drug-related deaths have risen to record levels

Responding to the figures, Jon Murray, Executive Director of Services in England at drug, alcohol and mental health charity With You says: 
“The stark figures released today by the ONS are tragic and concerning. Behind these figures are heartbreaking stories of extreme trauma and resilience. Every drug-related death is preventable and impacts families and communities years down the line... | With You, UK

Response to today's release of England's drug-related death figures

At Phoenix we know how painful it is to lose a loved one or family member as a result of drugs… a brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, father, partner, friend. The stigma people who use drugs experience, often extends to their families and has an impact on how families are able to grieve and mourn their loved one... | Phoenix Futures, UK

Time for change - our response to the tragic rise in drug-related deaths in 2020

Mark Moody, our Chief Executive, is calling for change: Such an increase in the number of drug-related deaths demonstrates the need for us to take action now. Too many people have died, and each death is a tragedy for families and a loss for our communities... | Change Grow Live, UK

Deaths related to drug poisoning increase 60 per cent in a decade

Yet again, the number of people dying has reached a record high, with 4,561 deaths representing a 3.8 per cent increase from the previous year. Mortality rates are rising for both men and women. In the last decade, the number of people dying has increased by over 60 per cent | Collective Voice, UK

Press Release: Number of drug-related deaths rise for the 9th year in a row. Government must follow the evidence if they are to save lives

Release’s Policy Lead, Dr. Laura Garius, says:  “With drug poisoning deaths increasing once again in England and Wales it is time to acknowledge the role that current drug policy, and government inaction, are playing in these deaths... | Release, UK

Stop and search disproportionately affects black communities – yet police powers are being extended

The UK government has extended police stop-and-search powers as part of its recently announced “beating crime plan”. This is despite concern that black and minority groups are more likely to be unfairly targeted by police when they have greater discretion over who they stop and search | Conversation, UK

Cocaine Cowboys: the story of the billionaires who controlled Miami

In a Netflix docuseries, the story of ‘The Kings of Miami’ brings in a complex story of crime, corruption and wealth | Guardian, UK

Review. Kanabo VapePod

"It’s the first credible, all-in-one prescription product for vaporised medicinal cannabis. It doesn’t disappoint. The packaging looks just right to be sitting on a pharmacy shelf. There’s no silly cannabis branding.  You couldn’t mistake this for a children’s toy or a stoner’s gizmo..." | Peter Reynolds, UK

COVID-19 lockdowns have helped give Australians the space to quit drinking alcohol

Brisbane mum Lisa Wilkins says she's been to hell and back. The recovered alcoholic spent 25 years of her life in the depths of addiction and denial that took nearly two years to overcome | abc.net.au, Australia

Opinion Piece: Potential repercussions of prescription vaping

The Federal Government’s decision to push ahead with a prescription-based model for nicotine e-cigarettes has the potential to slow the vaccine rollout and entrench a black market for vaping products | C Store opinion, Australia