Daily news - 20th September 2021

Weekly subscribe button

UK news

Cocaine, the yuppie drug? Not now, say experts – its lure is crossing all classes

Once a potent symbol of 1980s excess, the class A narcotic has become commonplace. So how do we curb its soaring use? | Guardian, UK

British gangs and international rivals join forces to increase cocaine sales

Analysis by National Crime Agency finds more than 1,700 UK criminal groups involved in drug supply | Guardian, UK

Launch of television campaign on preventing drug-related deaths (PDF)

Today sees the launch of a television and online campaign to promote intervention when someone experiences a drug overdose. The public are being encouraged to learn how to recognise an overdose and intervene to save lives. The campaign also encourages the public to order the freely available medication naloxone which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Opioids, like heroin, were implicated in 90% of Scotland’s 1339 drug related deaths in 2020 | SDF, UK

Health ‘levelling up’ will flop if cuts are not reversed, Javid told

Exclusive: Ministers must restore public health funding after decade of cuts, world expert Michael Marmot to say | Guardian, UK

Drink-driving: Wales has highest ratio of Britain's casualties

Wales has the highest percentage of drink-drive casualties in Britain, according to UK government data | BBC, UK

Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses – Learning Needs report published

A new report has been published by Scottish Drugs Forum which assesses the learning needs of the Sexual Health and BBV sector across Scotland | SDF, UK

Four different drugs found in ‘Pharaoh’ pills at Parklife festival

Partygoers have been urged to get their drugs tested after four different coloured ‘Pharaoh’ pills at Parklife festival were found to contain completely different substances | Metro, UK

Evaluation of a national smoke-free prisons policy using medication dispensing: an interrupted time-series analysis

In Scotland, all prisons implemented a comprehensive smoke-free policy in 2018 after a 16-month anticipatory period. In this study, we aimed to use data on medication dispensing to assess the impact of this policy on cessation support, health outcomes, and potential unintended consequences among people in prison custody | Lancet, UK

Warning UK faces 'worst research blackout in history' as Home Office falters on drug law

Tory MP Crispin Blunt has blamed the Home Office for blocking a change to how an illegal hallucinogenic drug is tested as a new antidepressant | Daily Express, UK

Stoptober campaign evaluation

Added 'Stoptober 2020 campaign evaluation'. | PHE, UK

TikTok Is Hosting Ads for ‘Whipped Cream’. But It’s Actually Nitrous Oxide

Bristol No 1 Cream promises to provide whipped cream chargers "within the hour." Drug reform charities said the ads should be removed | VICE, UK

Virtual event will celebrate Doncaster people who have beaten alcohol and drug addictions

People from across the world are competing in the Doncaster Recovery Games which celebrates people who have overcome addiction | Doncaster Free Press, UK

Heroin to Hero: One Fife man hopes his story of recovery will inspire at Perth Prison

A Fife man who turned his life around after kicking a seven-year drug habit is hoping his story will inspire others | Courier, UK

DrugFAM - Bereaved by Drugs, Alcohol or Gambling Virtual Conference

Sat, 9 October 2021, 10:00 – 16:15 BST. The conference allows bereaved families to come together and share their feelings and stories with others who have either gone through or are going through the same emotions they are experiencing | DrugFAM, UK

Annual Scarman lecture 2021: Drugs & the Criminal Justice System in the UK

Wed, 29 September 2021, 17:00 – 18:30 BST. With experts from policing, the prison service, public health and Release, we debate the ‘what works’ questions in relation to addressing how the criminal justice system responds to the challenges presented by substance use | University of Leicester, UK


International news

Drinks giants are warned not to claim 'alcoholic water' is healthy or a diet option as 'hard seltzer' sales boom in Britain following popularity in the US

The craze for these 'hard seltzers' has come from the US to British supermarkets | Mail Online, UK

Estonian harm reduction programme brilliantly reverses its overdose epidemic

A recent European study taking stock of the Estonian response to  the rise drug-related deaths since the turn of the century demonstrates how harm reduction is an essential part of any public health programme | Talking Drugs, UK

Automakers could be required to install technology to detect drunk drivers

Cars would be prevented from starting if the operator is impaired – but some critics worry about who could access the data | Guardian, UK

Reformed drug dealer fulfils dream to caddie for Team USA in Ryder Cup, in home state

[Limited number of free articles per week] Eric Larson served 11 years in jail but turned life around to resume Tour role and carry bag of Harris English in Wisconsin | Telegraph, UK

Report of the Emerging Drug Trends and Drug Checking Working Group 2021 (PDF)

An emerging stimulant and poly drug culture among new user groups are currently major issues of concern. Compared with European counterparts, there are limited localised studies on the area of drug use in nightlife settings. As well as this, a gap in service provision has been identified and there are currently no tailored services to meet the needs of young people who use drugs | HSE, Ireland

Purity and potency of MDMA and cocaine “at an all-time high” HSE report says

A report issued by the HSE raises a series of concerns about the purity and potency of MDMA and cocaine in Ireland. The strength of these substances were referred to in the newly launched Emerging Drug Trends and Drug Checking Working Group 2021 report as at an “all-time high” | District Magazine, Ireland

Festival drug testing pilot needs approval from Gardaí and Department of Justice

The health chief seeking to introduce Ireland’s first drug testing service at festivals said they need Garda HQ and the Department of Justice to “give it the okay” | Irish Examiner, Ireland

Dearer tobacco ‘may not increase tax yield’

Increasing the cost of cigarettes in the Budget may not lead to an increased tax take as smokers turn to cheaper tobacco products from other countries, as well as e-cigrarettes, the Revenue Commissioners have warned | Independent, Ireland

Belgium wants to ban apps like Waze from indicating alcohol checks

Belgium is looking into whether it can prohibit navigation apps such as Waze and Coyote from showing where alcohol and drug controls are set up, after France announced it would ban the practice from 1 November | Brussels Times, Belgium

Italy set for referendum on liberalising cannabis use, say weed advocates

Weed advocates in Italy said on Saturday they had gathered enough signatures to trigger a referendum on liberalising the use of cannabis, setting the stage for a nationwide vote on the issue early next year | Reuters, USA

What percentage of children aged 5–17 years ever lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem, and did this vary by sociodemographic characteristic?

In 2019, 9.7% of children aged 5–17 years had lived with someone who had a problem with alcohol or drug use | CDC, USA

Pfizer recalls all lots of anti-smoking drug Chantix due to potential carcinogen

The nationwide recall of all Chantix 0.5 mg and 1 mg tablets was prompted because they may contain levels of a nitrosamine, N-nitroso-varenicline, that are at or above levels approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration | Medical Xpress, USA

Harnessing Harm-Reduction Methods to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, such as carfentanil, are driving an opioid overdose crisis in North America. In 2019 alone, there were 3831 opioid-related deaths in Canada and 47,600 fatalities involving opioids in the United States | Psychiatric Times, USA

A Vaccine to Treat Opioid Disorders: First Participant Enrolled in Trial

A vaccine that prevents oxycodone from entering the brain? This might be the safe, long-lasting, cost-effective solution for opioid use disorders | Psychiatric Times, USA

Drug Users Are Being Sentenced to Forced Rehab. But Does It Work?

California could be come the latest lab in a nationwide experiment: Instead of sentencing drug users to jail, what if you sentenced them to rehab? | VICE, USA

Where Did It All Go So Wrong for Juul?

A new documentary by The New York Times traces the e-cigarette maker on its path from fledgling start-up to Silicon Valley juggernaut and, eventually, public health villain | NYTimes, USA

Companies Are So Desperate to Fill Jobs They're Getting Rid of Drug Tests

In a survey out  from staffing firm ManpowerGroup, 9% of employers worldwide said they are eliminating job screenings or drug tests in order to attract and retain talent | Money, USA

New report seeks to explore role of race and trauma in opioid overdose deaths in Philadelphia

The inaugural OD Stat report summarizes findings of a panel of public health experts who reviewed in depth 22 individual overdose death cases in an effort to identify and address gaps in services | Philadelphia Inquirer, USA

Prescription Inhalable Heroin Is Coming to BC. Will the Province Embrace It?

Experts say it’s past time to expand life-saving therapy for drug users | The Tyee, Canada

My Journey Begins with Compassion - video

Stigma is a major barrier to the well-being and recovery of people with lived and living experience of substance use disorders. This animated video about two friends, Alex and Sam, explores the devastating impact of substance use stigma and how to challenge it in our communities | CCSA/CCDUS, Canada

Australia could miss the WHO hepatitis C virus elimination targets due to declining treatment uptake and ongoing burden of advanced liver disease complications

Australia was one of the first countries to introduce government-funded unrestricted access to direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy, with 88,790 treated since March 2016. However, treatment uptake is declining which could potentially undermine Australia’s progress towards the WHO HCV elimination targets | PLOS One, Australia

New law set to make sale of nicotine-containing vape products illegal

Claudine Watson-Kyme was shocked to discover her 15 year-old daughter Sophie was vaping regularly. Even more shocking, that she required hospitalisation for a severe asthma episode exacerbated (and potentially induced) by her use of disposable vapes, also known as e-cigarettes | Canberra Times, Australia

Medical cannabis approvals hit a new record high

Do you know how many applications have been granted access to medical cannabis products in Australia (as of the 31st of August 2021)?  If you guessed “over 150,000“, you’d be right | Pondering Pot, Australia

Police target drug accused’s jewellery, cars, property worth up to $15m

The men, who police allege sit at the top of a drug syndicate’s food chain, were charged over their alleged involvement in importing 2.8 tonnes of ice, with an estimated street value of $150 million, brought in on multiple shipments between 2013 and 2014 | Sydney Morning Herald, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

Scottish overdose prevention serice to tour UK

With a legacy of over 800 injections supervised, and no fatalities, within a repurposed ambulance over the last year in Glasgow, founder, Peter Krykant, is passing on his lifesaving Overdose Prevention Service vehicle to Transform Drugs Policy Foundation | Transform blog, UK

Are we losing our humanity in addiction treatment?

I must have signed tens of thousands of prescriptions over the years for a variety of medical conditions from athlete’s foot to diabetes. Not one patient, as far as I can remember, has congratulated me on my expertise around knowledge of the evidence base, guideline awareness, titration skills, dose precision, grasp of pharmacodynamics or knowledge of drug interactions | Recovery Review blog, UK

The Island of Safety

Having worked in the drug policy space for over half a decade - I’ve witnessed unprecedented change. My career transition from drug treatment equipped me with the knowledge and skill set required - but nothing could brace me for some of the unique trials of influencing policy | Paul North, UK

sCOPe Livestream 8 - 12 November 2021

CAPHRA is going to run a programme similar to Voices4Vape for two hours every day from 11am - 1pm Hong Kong time during the five days | NSP blog, UK

‘I have to be brave to get my material’: John Safran on humour, lies and Philip Morris

John Safran has made a career of probing society’s fringes for satire. Now the perpetual provocateur takes on the Earth’s largest cigarette company | Guardian, UK

The Opioid Settlement, Stigma, Disempowerment, and Nonconsensual Third-Party Releases

The multibillion-dollar Opioid Settlement. The infamous first family of overdose deaths, the real criminals get awarded immunity. The “abusers” get hammered, once again. Families lost their chance at justice. We see and feel how our institutions marginalize the marginalized, once again | Recovery Review blog, USA

What We Left Behind in Afghanistan

According to the most recent “Afghanistan Opium Survey” report of the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghanistan is the largest opium producer in the world. UNODC also reported that the Taliban was the biggest buyer of opium and the biggest collector of opium production taxes as well | Points blog, USA