Reports: April

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Establishment of a High Level Taskforce to consider the mental health and addiction challenges of persons interacting with the criminal justice system

The establishment of the Taskforce is further to the Government’s commitment to ensure the critical mental health needs for people in prison are met, addiction treatments are provided and primary care support is available on release, in order to ensure improved outcomes for individuals and for society | Department of Justice, Ireland

New ESPAD results: teenage drinking and smoking down, but concerns over risky cannabis use and new addictive behaviours

The study, published in collaboration with the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA), is based on a 2019 survey in 35 European countries, including 25 EU Member States | ESPAD, Portugal

The Biden-Harris Administration’s Statement of Drug Policy Priorities for Year One (PDF)

The overdose and addiction crisis has taken a heartbreaking toll on far too many Americans and their families. Since 2015, overdose death numbers have risen 35 percent, reaching a historic high of 70,630 deaths in 2019 | The Whitehouse, USA

Co-involvement of Opioids in Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Cocaine and Psychostimulants

From 2009 through 2019, the rate of overdose deaths involving both cocaine and opioids increased at a faster pace than the rate of overdose deaths with cocaine but no opioids | CDC, USA

Giving the ok to ‘Stay In. Drink Up.’ What happens when the alcohol industry is in charge of alcohol marketing regulation during the COVID-19 pandemic (PDF)

Twelve months since Australia first went into lockdown, Cancer Council has released a report demonstrating how industry codes failed to protect the community from harmful alcohol advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic | Cancer Council WA, Australia

Coroner calls for urgent drug testing services in Victoria

Victorian Coroner Paresa Spanos is calling for the urgent implementation of public services that check the content and purity of illicit drugs, following an investigation into the harrowing deaths of five young men | Coroner's Court of Victoria, Australia

Drugs in the Time of COVID: Interim Report

Since the beginning of the first national coronavirus lockdown, Release has operated a public, online survey designed to monitor how people are buying their drugs. The purpose of this survey, which is open to anyone residing in the UK over the age of 18, is to determine the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic, and corresponding restrictions, have had on buying illegal substances | Release, UK

Death Penalty For Drug Offences: Global Overview 2020

This report, our tenth on the subject, continues our work of providing regular updates on legislative, policy and practical developments related to the use of capital punishment for drug offences, a practice which is a clear violation of international law | HRI, UK

Profile of 16/17-year-old smokers Based on analysis of data from the UCL Smoking Toolkit Study and ASH Smokefree Youth Surveys (PDF)

Between 2007 and 2019, smoking prevalence in the 16/17-year-old age group fell from 23.3% to 7.8%. The population of smokers in this age group fell by 66.5% between 2007 and 2019, the biggest decline of any age group | ASH, UK

Department of Health annual report 2019

Prevention, early intervention, and empowering people to look after their own health and wellbeing are essential elements of our Healthy Ireland strategy – the ‘whole of Government’ framework for improving health and wellbeing and the quality of people’s lives | DoH, Ireland

Methamphetamine developments in South Asia: the situation in Iran and the implications for the EU and its neighbours — EU4MD special report

Iran is a key transhipment point for illicit drugs along the Balkan and Southern trafficking routes and this report examines the threats posed by its potential emergence as a transhipment point for Afghan methamphetamine (‘shisheh’) | EMCDDA, Portugal

Drug Decriminalisation: Progress or Political Red Herring?

This report, like our previous report on Portugal, is intended to open up the debate on decriminalisation and make clear the expectations people who use drugs have for future action on drug policy reform. Most importantly, it includes a call for full decriminalisation without sanctions as the new baseline for measuring progress on decriminalisation in the future | INPUD, UK

Taking stock of half a decade of drug policy - An evaluation of UNGASS implementation

April 2021 marks the five-year anniversary of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs. This report aims to take stock of progress made on the implementation of the operational recommendations included in the UNGASS Outcome Document | IDPC, UK

European Union Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment

Close to 40% of the criminal networks active in the EU are involved in the trade in illegal drugs | Europol, The Netherlands

Narcotic Drugs 2020: Estimated World Requirements for 2021 (PDF)

Global production and stocks of opium increased significantly in 2019. Opium imports, on the other hand, showed a strong decrease, from 53.5 tons (5.8 tons in morphine equivalent) in 2018 to only 11.3 tons (1.2 tons in morphine equivalent) in 2019, with one traditional importer ceasing imports altogether. The continuing low demand for the drug could signal a trend towards the eventual elimination of the drug from the international market for opiate raw materials | INCB, Austria

Pot, water theft, and environmental harms in the US and Mexico

The government of Mexico is on the verge of legalizing cannabis for industrial, medical, and recreational purposes, legislation that would make Mexico only the third country to legalize all aspects of cannabis production and all types of the plant’s use | Brookings, USA

Trends in Drug-Induced Deaths in Australia, 1997-2019

This bulletin reports on all drug-induced deaths (i.e., deaths directly attributable to drug use) in Australia from 1997 to 2019. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) were accessed from the Cause of Death Unit Record File (COD URF) though the Australian Coordinating Registry (ACR) and analysed in consultation with the ABS | NDARC, Australia

Volunteering as a service user in the UK: Findings from a cross-sector survey (PDF)

The survey focused on service user volunteers in the criminal justice, drug & alcohol, homelessness and complex needs sectors. Its purpose was to inform a new best practice guide to enable organisations to provide the best support to service users working as volunteers and for service users to know what they should expect from the services they volunteer for | Russell Webster, UK

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

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

Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Burning Issue for Asia

Sixty per cent of the world’s smokers live in this region and almost half the global deaths from smoking occur here. Asia is also home to nine in every ten users of smokeless tobacco, leading to high rates of oral cancer. In a number of countries, public health is severely undermined where governments either control or have a significant stake in domestic tobacco companies. New solutions are needed to tackle the public health threat from smoking and tobacco use - but safer nicotine products are banned in many countries. Would tobacco harm reduction improve public health in Asia? And if so - what are the obstacles that stand in its way? | GSTHR, UK

A Sustainable Future for Cannabis Farmers

Learn how lessening the barriers for small farmers while raising them for large companies can help to steer legal cannabis markets in a more sustainable and equitable direction based on principles of community empowerment, social justice, fair(er) trade and sustainable development | TNI, The Netherlands

Patterns of intensive alcohol and other drug treatment service use in Australia, 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2019

Clients accessing alcohol and other drug treatment services often receive multiple episodes of treatment, with some clients requiring more intensive treatment to achieve their goals. This report describes 3 distinct client cohorts based on their patterns of treatment service use between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2019. Clients who received intensive treatment were more likely than other cohorts to report receiving treatment for multiple principal drugs of concern and for more main treatment types across episodes | AIHW, Australia

Ketamine use among people who regularly use ecstasy and other illicit stimulants in Australia: trends and characteristics of use, 2009-2019

Ketamine use has continued to rise, and previous research have linked several harms with frequent use. This paper described trends in ketamine use among sentinel cross-sectional samples of Australians who regularly use ecstasy and other illicit stimulants from 2009-2019, along with the characteristics of consumers | NDARC, Australia

Commission on Alcohol Harm: ‘It’s Everywhere’—Alcohol’s Public Face and Private Harm

A recent report by the Commission on Alcohol Harm highlighted the damage caused by alcohol abuse. Setting out a number of recommendations, it called for the Government to publish a new comprehensive alcohol strategy. This article provides a brief overview of the report and the Government’s current policy on alcohol | House of Lords Library, UK

HHS Releases New Buprenorphine Practice Guidelines, Expanding Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

In an effort to get evidenced-based treatment to more Americans with opioid use disorder, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is releasing new buprenorphine practice guidelines [ Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder] that among other things, remove a longtime requirement tied to training, which some practitioners have cited as a barrier to treating more people | SAMHSA, USA

The Global Opportunity: How Global Britain can lead on tobacco harm reduction and save millions of lives

While the number of smokers has fallen in recent years the Government is not on track to meet its target of being ‘smoke-free by 2030’, which means having an adult smoking prevalence of 5% or less. Even under optimistic assumptions, the Government will miss its target by a whole percentage point on current trends. This is the warning today by the free market think tank the Adam Smith Institute in a new report | Adam Smith Institute, UK

Impact of COVID-19 on drug markets, use, harms and drug services in the community and prisons

Since early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the way we live, with European countries having to introduce unprecedented measures to protect public health. As with all areas of life, drug consumption, related harms and drug markets have been impacted, as have the services established to respond to drug-related problems | EMCDDA, Portugal