Daily news - 19th August 2021

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UK news

National Patient Safety Alert - Public Health England

In the past 10-14 days there have been an unprecedented number of overdoses (with some deaths) in people who use drugs, primarily heroin, in some parts of the country (5 London boroughs, Hampshire, Essex, West Sussex, Dorset, Thames Valley). This alert contains urgent actions for providers where staff may encounter people who use drugs and those providers that provide emergency care for opioid overdose | MHRA, UK

A joint thematic inspection of community-based drug treatment and recovery work with people on probation

The findings in this inspection were consistent with the overall picture, with probation services often overstretched. Practitioners did not always have the time to examine individuals’ back stories and identify factors that could help support them into recovery, stay safe and move away from drug-related offending. Probation court teams made too few recommendations for treatment. [Press Release here] | HM Inspectorate of Probation, UK

Support for drug users on probation in England and Wales ‘not good enough’

Fewer than 3,000 people referred for specialist drug misuse treatment in 2019/2020, report says | Guardian, UK

Merthyr Tydfil: Valium leaves one dead and another in hospital

South Wales Police has warned that the batch of the drug - also known as diazepam - could be circulating in in Merthyr Tydfil | BBC, UK

Smoking, the Heart and Circulation

Updated factsheet. Tobacco use is the leading behavioural risk factor for cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke. Smoking causes around 20,000 deaths from heart and circulatory disease in the UK each year | ASH, UK

Mind-altering Plants with Michael Pollan - podcast

In this episode of the Drug Science Podcast, world-renowned journalist and psychedelics author Michael Pollan joins Prof David Nutt to discuss gardening. Of course, this being the Drug Science podcast, there’s no mention of sunflowers or strawberries. Instead, these two icons of psychopharmacology discuss the cultivation of mind-altering plants and everything else you might want to know about plant-based drugs such as Opium, Caffeine and Mescaline | Drug Science, UK

Working in Drug Science

Wed, 6 October 2021, 18:00 – 21:00 BST. A free and comprehensive virtual event where you'll learn everything you need to know about Drug Science and how to get involved | Drug Science, UK

Recovery Games 2021 Registration Form

September marks a new chapter in the life of the Recovery Games and the Recovery Calendar as Aspire Drug and Alcohol Service get ready to hold this year’s event online after a year off due to the pandemic. The 2021 Recovery Games which start on September 1 will see teams competing in a virtual arena in their hometowns throughout the whole of Recovery Month | Aspire Drug and Alcohol Service, UK


International news

Where and What You Drink Is Linked to How Much You Drink: An Exploratory Survey of Alcohol Use in 17 Countries

[Open access] This paper aimed to explore the differences in subjective experiences of intoxication depending on drinking location and drink type | Substance Use and Misuse, UK

Understanding the Impacts of Novel Coronavirus Outbreaks on People Who Use Drugs: A Systematic Review to Inform Practice and Drug Policy Responses to COVID-19

[Open access] People who use drugs (PWUD) experience many social and health harms and are considered at greater risk of acquiring COVID-19. Little research has examined the impact of coronaviruses either on PWUD, or on services targeted to PWUD | MDPI, UK

Canadian soldier guilty of drugging comrades with cannabis cupcakes

Sandra Cogswell convicted on eight counts of administering noxious substance and one of behaving in a disgraceful manner | Guardian, UK

Attorney General James Co-Leads Bipartisan Coalition Calling on FDA to Regulate E-Cigarettes and Oral Nicotine Products

New York Attorney General Letitia James today led a coalition of 31 states and territories in urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt the surge of youth nicotine addiction by enacting restrictions on tobacco products that disproportionately harm youth | New York Attorney General, USA

Association of the Frequency and Quantity of Alcohol Consumption With Gastrointestinal Cancer

This study suggests that frequent drinking may be a more important risk factor for incident GI cancers than the amount of alcohol consumed per occasion, and patients should be careful with their drinking habits, including regular consumption of small amounts of alcohol | JAMA Network Open, USA

The DRAM, Vol. 17(9) - Does television exposure to alcohol influence youth drinking behaviors?

Teens and young adults use and abuse alcohol more than any other substance. Adolescent alcohol use harms brain development and can lead to future problem drinking and alcohol dependence | BASIS, USA

Survey: Spiked seltzer is here to stay

The shift among young adults toward spiked seltzers — and away from cheap beer — will prompt lasting changes in the alcohol industry | AXIOS, USA

Will the Drug Liberation Movement Make Room for Nicotine?

I recently came across a tweet from high-profile psychedelics researcher Matthew Johnson that took my by surprise: “Nicotine,” Johnson wrote, “is an under-recognized battle front in the War on Drugs.” | Filter Magazine, USA

Can Harm Reduction Reform the Drug Courts?

Among prohibitionists and proponents of the drug war, drug courts are touted as a means of diverting people from incarceration. But as harm reductionists know, the mandatory treatment those courts impose—often on people who do not have a substance use disorder—is not evidence-based, not effective and ultimately still carceral in nature, too | Filter Magazine, USA

International Overdose Awareness Day - 31st August 2021 

International Overdose Awareness Day is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind. Time to Remember. Time to Act | Penington Institute, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

Drug Related Deaths 2021 – a response from Tom Woodcock

Every year since 1993 the Government has published statistics for deaths relating to drug poisonings in England and Wales and the recently published report for 2020 shows that 4651 such deaths were recorded with the highest rates occurring in the North of England | DDN, UK

MDMA: History and lessons learned, part 1

This is the first of a two-part extract from the chapter on MDMA in Transform's recently published book 'How to Regulate Stimulants: A Practical Guide' | Transform blog, UK

Moving Deckchairs On The Titanic: Drug Policy Reform in the UK

We are first and second authors on a paper titled “Illegal drugs in the UK: Is it time for considered legalisation to improve public health?”, recently published in Drug Science, Policy and Law. The paper was written by ourselves and co-author Richard Hammersley and in it we covered four possible policy positions on illegal drugs. These four positions are outlined [in this post] | Talking Drugs, UK

Emily Carver: The war on drugs has failed. Will this government have the guts to change tack?

One feature of the media’s coverage of the pandemic that many of us will be pleased to see the back of were the daily reminders of the Covid death count. For many months, switching on the television or picking up a newspaper meant being barraged with distressing figures of those who had sadly passed away from the virus | Conservative Home blog, UK

Alcohol deaths in Scotland: Here's what should be done to stem this tide of grief and suffering – Elinor Jayne

This week we found out just how heavy a price people in Scotland paid for having an alcohol problem in 2020, the year we’re all so desperate to forget: 1,190 people died directly from alcohol | Scotsman opinion, UK

The great British pub is good for your health

[Limited number of free articles per week] You form useful habits when drinking within a solicitous community, but they can be unlearnt swiftly in the seclusion of self-isolation | Telegraph comment, UK

‘Drug Smuggler Nation: Narcotics and the Netherlands, 1920-1995.’ By Stephen Snelders

Despite its reputation as a centre of illicit drug trafficking and the oft-times bane of the international drug control regime, relatively little has been written by academics on the historical background of that ‘Drug Smuggler Nation’, the Netherlands | GDPO, UK

COMMENT || Lack of understanding over law changes that will impact smokers

Judging by some of the comments in response to my recent call for a public education campaign on the new nicotine vaping laws, such a campaign is badly needed as there is a real lack of understanding of the new system in the community | The Advocate comment, Australia