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Weekly news - 14th January 2022


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Millions in UK drinking harmful levels of alcohol at home, experts warn

Switch to drinking at home rather than in pubs during Covid pandemic partly to blame | Guardian, UK

Addiction to painkillers has soared during the pandemic as GPs hand out longer prescriptions, experts warn

[DrugWise Director, Harry Shapiro quoted] The UK Addiction Treatment (UKAT) group, which runs treatment centres, said that the number of people it treats annually for prescription opioid addiction has risen by almost half since 2018 | Mail Online, UK

Study into link between mental health and substance abuse issues on young people’s mortality

Young people with a history of mental health and drink and drug issues are more likely to die than those with a mental illness or who use substances alone | Swansea University, UK

Smoking costs society £17bn – £5bn more than previously estimated

New economic analysis of national data for ASH finds the cost of smoking to society is significantly higher than previous estimates have shown. Commissioned by charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) the new figures show the cost of smoking to society totals £17.04bn for England each year. This compares to £12.5bn under the previous estimate | ASH, UK

Drugs Strategy Debate - video

Debate in Holyrood on the Scottish government's national mission on drugs strategy, from Thursday 13 January | BBC, UK

Scoping project: A peer-based needle exchange service in London (PDF)

With 43% of people who inject drugs reporting sharing needles or other unclean works in 2020, the overall level of hepatitis C transmission changing little in recent years, and infections amongst people who inject drugs increasing, there's a need for renewed investment and innovation in harm reduction services.... This report explores the feasibility, acceptability, and practical considerations of developing a peer-based needle exchange service. It draws on focus groups with people who use needle exchange services and peer support workers, interviews with experts from services and commissioning bodies, and international evidence | LJWG, UK

NHS smoking cessation local delivery plan standard quarterly

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) presents information on NHS Stop Smoking Services in Scotland and their progress towards their annual Local Delivery Plan (LDP) Standard. The LDP Standard for NHS Scotland in 2021/22 is to achieve at least 7,026 self-reported successful twelve-week quits through smoking cessation services in the most deprived areas | PHS, UK

Chronic pain, prescribed opioids and overdose risk: a qualitative exploration of the views of affected individuals and family members

[Open access] In 2019 in Scotland, prescription analgesics contributed to, or were implicated in, approximately 19% of drug related deaths. The experiences of those prescribed opioids for CNCP and family members, particularly their perceptions of overdose risk, are under-explored in the literature. This study aimed to address this gap by exploring how individuals and family members perceive the issue of overdose in relation to opioid analgesics, and their views of overdose prevention and potential interventions | DEPP, UK

Including the multiply excluded: a mixed methods study exploring intragroup stigma towards people who use synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists

[Open access] People who use drugs are a highly stigmatized population. This study explored within-group stigma associated with the use of synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (SCRA) in a sample who accessed a support service in a large city in England | DEPP, UK

Naloxone trials: How police preventing overdoses can change everything

[Free registration required] Police forces both in the UK and internationally are increasingly equipping officers with overdose reversal medication such as naloxone, in an effort to cut the catastrophic numbers of drug-related deaths; drugs policing expert Ben Twomey, who wrote the policy for the first force in the UK to carry the medication, writes about what it means for the war on drugs | Policing Insight, UK

The use of out-of-court disposals and diversion at the ‘front end’

This report examines the effectiveness of out-of-court disposals and diversion programmes and considers whether there is scope to increase their use. Our research included analysis of the latest evidence and trends, an in-depth study in the Thames Valley Police force area and a nationally representative survey. We concluded that there is a strong case to be made for the expansion of out-of-court sanctions - building on pockets of good practice across England and Wales... | CREST Advisory, UK

UK pupils taught about alcohol with ‘misleading’ industry-funded resources

Researchers say teaching materials play down harms and shift responsibility on to young people | Guardian, UK

Needle exchange practitioners accounts of delivering harm reduction advice for chemsex: implications for policy and practice

[Open access] Needle exchange and harm reduction programs in the UK provide a range of interventions which could be effective in reducing the risk of physical and psychological harm and minimizing the spread of blood-borne viruses for men who have sex with men who engage in chemsex. To understand the existing practice, this qualitative study was undertaken using semi-structured interviews with 17 harm reduction practitioners working in needle exchange services in two UK cities | DEPP, UK

New Drug Deaths Taskforce vice-chair

Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance has appointed former Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Professor Fiona McQueen as Vice-Chair of the Drug Deaths Taskforce | Scottish Government, UK

The COVID-19 alcohol paradox: British household purchases during 2020 compared with 2015-2019

British supermarket-panel data suggest no increases in overall sales and purchases of alcohol following COVID-19 lockdowns, yet survey and mortality data suggest otherwise. This paper attempts to unravel the paradox | PLOS One, UK

Newcastle University finds poor areas spent more on alcohol in lockdown

Lockdown alcohol consumption increased most among heavy drinkers, those in deprived communities and people in the north of England, research has shown | BBC, UK

No Evidence for ‘Injection Spiking’ in UK, Police and Security Experts Say

There is no evidence of any cases of people being spiked by injection, the UK’s private security watchdog and second biggest police force have said | VICE, UK

Snapchat fights drug dealing on app amid surge in youth overdose deaths

Improved automated drug detection systems and enhanced partnerships with law enforcement are among changes | Guardian, UK

Latest European Web Survey on Drugs finds cannabis and ecstasy use most impacted by COVID-19

New survey results released today by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) reveal that cannabis and ecstasy use are the drug-consumption patterns most impacted by COVID-19 restrictions | EMCDDA, Portugal

The impact of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular health: myths and measures

 In a new policy brief, the World Heart Federation (WHF) is challenging the widespread notion that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol can decrease the risk of heart disease, and calling for urgent and decisive action to tackle the unprecedented rise in alcohol-related death and disability worldwide | World Heart Federation, Switzerland