Daily news - 29th May 2018

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UK news

How addiction took hold of the UK – and cost the NHS millions

In 1975, there were thought to be 5,000 people using heroin in England. As the numbers grew, so did the health service’s bill | Guardian, UK

Mutiny festival deaths: mother of Georgia Jones, 18, describes her heartbreak

Janine Milburn pays tribute to ‘my little girl’ as festival cancelled after two deaths | Guardian, UK

Concerns raised over festival water supplies after drug deaths

Organisers of Mutiny festival in Portsmouth deny access to free water was limited | Guardian, UK

Another “Bad Batch”?

Last weekend saw both the start of the UK summer festival season and the abrupt end to one of its festivals – forced to close early due to two drug-related deaths and over 15 hospital admissions. Sadly another two young adults have been added to the growing list of festival drug casualties | Volte Face, UK

PSNI drugs warning after death of 34-year-old

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has issued a warning about drugs after the death of a 34-year-old man in County Londonderry | BBC, UK

New link found between alcohol, genes and heart failure

They found a faulty gene may interact with alcohol to accelerate heart failure in some patients with the gene – even if they only drink moderate amounts of alcohol | ITV, UK

Queen’s physician in Scotland, Roy Robertson, backs call for shooting galleries for drug addicts in Glasgow amid rise in HIV cases

[May require free registration to access] The Queen’s physician in Scotland has accused the UK and Scottish governments of failing vulnerable drugs users and urged ministers to back shooting galleries allowing them to inject safely amid a rise in cases of HIV | Sunday Times, UK

Mental Health: Alcoholic Drinks

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the report, Alcohol and Mental Health: Policy and Practice in England, published by the Institute of Alcohol Studies and Centre for Mental Health in April 2018, what plans he has to tackle the gaps in provision of treatment services for those with co-morbid alcohol use and mental health difficulties | They work for you, UK

Cannabis puts 27,000 people a year in hospital: Rise in admissions could be due to increase in use of super-strength 'skunk', warns MP

There were 27,501 admissions linked to cannabis in England in 2016/17, a 15 per cent rise in just two years from 23,866 in 2014/15 | Mail Online, UK

Formaldehyde levels in e-cigarettes were previously 'underestimated', researchers find

The amount of a new form of the carcinogen formaldehyde found in e-cigarette aerosol emissions may have been previously underestimated according to a study | Pharmaceutical Journal, UK

New drugs strategy will divert drug users away from prosecution

The law-enforcement section of the Scottish Government’s new drugs strategy will recommend diverting more problem users away from prosecution if they’re caught in possession of illegal substances, the Sunday Herald has learned | Herald, UK

Smoking ban plan for playgrounds and hospital grounds

A ban on smoking in outdoor grounds of hospitals, schools and playgrounds in Wales has moved a step closer | BBC, UK

Leeds recovery community launch online magazine

A website for people in recovery from drug and alcohol addictions to show their creative side has been launched in Leeds | FORWARD LEEDS, UK

London crime: Middle class cocaine users should feel blame for capital's stabbings, says Justice Secretary David Gauke

David Gauke said those who take cocaine at dinner parties are responsible for fuelling the violence on the capital’s streets | London Evening Standard, UK

Kane Line: Foiled drugs line made £850,000 in 186 days

A drugs gang made about £850,000 in 186 days by using a single phone number in a "business model" that is on the rise, a senior police officer said | BBC, UK

DUP councillor Thomas Hogg banned for drink-driving

DUP councillor Thomas Hogg has been banned from driving for 12 months after being convicted of drink-driving | BBC, UK

Northern Ireland addicts with huge drug debts are taking their own lives rather than face angry dealers, claims front line worker

Northern Ireland is facing a deadly heroin and crack cocaine epidemic that is claiming lives, it has been warned | Belfast Telegraph, UK

Father and sons jailed for Barmouth 'teddy bear' ecstasy sale

A father and his two sons have been jailed after selling a teenager ecstasy tablets shaped like teddy bears that left him critical in hospital | BBC, UK

Derbyshire drug dealer's mansion disguised as shed seized

A drug dealer who built a £1.2m mansion disguised as a shed will have his home seized by the government | BBC, UK

When the UK didn't have a drink-driving law

It was controversial at the time, but the introduction of drink-driving laws brought a seismic shift in attitudes and saved many lives | BBC, UK


International news

Record US fentanyl bust 'enough to kill 26 million people'

Nearly 120lbs (54kg) of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic painkiller, has been seized by police in Nebraska - one of the largest busts in US history | BBC, UK

I took 57 painkillers a day to get high'

In December 2017 British woman Laura Plummer was jailed for three years for bringing 300 Tramadol painkiller tablets into Egypt. While the sentence shocked many in the UK, the case shone a light on a painkiller addiction problem blighting millions of Egyptians | BBC, UK

One million French smokers quit in a year amid anti-smoking measures

France has seen a sharp fall in the number of people smoking daily, with one million fewer lighting up from 2016-2017 a survey suggests | BBC, UK

Township mentors rescue families from ravages of alcohol

More than a tenth of children in South Africa have foetal alcohol syndrome. Now volunteer mothers are fighting back | Guardian, UK

Bangladesh anti-drug operation leads to dozens of deaths

More than 70 people have been killed by security forces in Bangladesh as part of a government anti-drug operation launched this month, officials say | BBC, UK

Taliban commander orders closure of opium labs in towns and cities

A Taliban commander in the Afghan province of Helmand has ordered all drug labs to be moved out of the urban areas the insurgency controls as US airstrikes targeting the facilities are killing a rising number of civilians, according to a recorded conversation obtained by the Guardian | Guardian, UK

'I want to produce the world's best cannabis'

It's been called 'The Green Rush' - the race to make money from marijuana | BBC iPlayer, UK

Tennessee women battling addiction – photo essay

In Campbell County, Tennessee, opioid prescriptions are five times the national average and methamphetamine is a growing problem. Photographer David Goldman talks to jailed women who hope to beat the cycle of addiction | Guardian, UK

What is CBD? The 'miracle' cannabis compound that doesn't get you high

The cannabis-derived chemical is non-psychoactive, and – while federally illegal – has been hailed as a cure for disease | Guardian, UK

Coca-Cola launches its first alcoholic drink in Japan

Coca-Cola has launched its first alcoholic drink, a lemon flavoured alcopop, in Japan in a bid to tap new markets and consumers | BBC, UK

Hitting the High Notes

The story of jazz in the post-war era is one of revolution and rebellion, as musicians like Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk and Dizzy Gillespie re-invented the genre, giving birth to bebop | BBC Radio 3, UK

Alcohol-related presentations to emergency departments in Ireland: a descriptive prevalence study

To determine the prevalence of alcohol-related presentations in all 29 emergency departments (EDs) in Ireland and compare with non-alcohol-related presentations in order to identify opportunities for improvements in the quality of patient care and related data collection | BMJ, Ireland

The Belfast Youth Development Study (BYDS): A prospective cohort study of the initiation, persistence and desistance of substance use from adolescence to adulthood in Northern Ireland

Substance misuse persists as a major public health issue worldwide with significant costs for society. The development of interventions requires methodologically sound studies to explore substance misuse causes and consequences | PLOS One, Ireland

Government looking at how to best source 'quality' medical cannabis for new access programme

Minister Harris told his Cabinet colleagues his department are looking at how to give “quality assurance” to patients | Journal, Ireland

So many people are dying from alcohol-related deaths it's like 'planes going down without survivors'

Despite three people dying in Ireland every day due to alcohol, one expert said there’s “very little outcry” | Journal, Ireland

'Some families lost four of five children to drugs': Being a GP in Dublin's inner city

Many homeless people are reluctant to seek medical treatment, for a number of reasons | Journal, Ireland

EMCDDA releases its first analysis on monitoring drug-related homicide in Europe

An EMCDDA Paper released today provides an overview of the information available on drug-related homicide (DRH) in Europe. This first snapshot provides practitioners and policymakers with the current state of the art on this topic | EMCDDA, Portugal

Swiss HIV prevention policy for intravenous drug users is a model for success

Switzerland's pragmatic HIV prevention policy for intravenous drug users has been extremely successful. Thousands of HIV infections and AIDS cases have been prevented thanks to harm reduction measures, as shown by an analysis by the University of Zurich, the University Hospital Zurich and the Swiss HIV Cohort Study | Medical Xpress, USA

Outbreak of Life-threatening Coagulopathy Associated with Synthetic Cannabinoids Use

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing information on: 1) the current status of a multistate outbreak of coagulopathy from exposure to synthetic cannabinoid products containing a vitamin K-dependent antagonist agent, such as brodifacoum; 2) signs and symptoms of presenting patients from this outbreak and which patients are at risk; 3) laboratory testing options that are available to help identify and classify cases; 4) available resources that may help clinicians make decisions; and 5) to whom to report possible cases | CDC, USA

They Shared Drugs. Someone Died. Does That Make Them Killers?

Prosecutors are increasingly treating overdose deaths as homicides, but they aren’t just going after dealers. Friends, family and fellow users are going to prison | NYTimes, USA

Opioid Crisis Compels New York to Look North for Answers

Supervised injection sites for heroin users have prevented overdose deaths in Canada. But is New York City ready for the scenes that come with them? | NYTimes, USA

Researchers tally the physical and financial costs of opioid painkillers' side effects

The opioid crisis has shown us that prescription painkillers and their illicit counterparts can wreak havoc in American communities. Now researchers have quantified the damage they can do inside hospitals when administered to patients following surgeries and other invasive medical procedures | Medical Xpress, USA

Exercise helps treat addiction by altering brain's dopamine system

New research by the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions has identified a key mechanism in how aerobic exercise can help impact the brain in ways that may support treatment—and even prevention strategies—for addiction | Medical Xpress, USA

Using Facebook to help young adults quit smoking

Novel UCSF project finds social media treatment can be effective even for those not ready to quit | Science Daily, USA

San Francisco mulls ban on flavored vaping liquids, menthols

A major tobacco company is pumping millions of dollars into a campaign to persuade San Francisco voters to reject a ban on selling flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, certain chewing tobaccos and vaping liquids with flavors like cotton candy, mango and cool cucumber | Medical Xpress, USA

Juuling is popular—perhaps too much so

The fad is pushing the regulator into action on e-cigarettes | Economist, USA

The truth about formaldehyde in e-cigarettes

Do e-cigarettes produce dangerous formaldehyde levels? This question has split scientific opinion for years. A new study reopens the discussion | MNT, USA

Tent erected in Vancouver as a rebel supervised drug-use site is now one of the busiest in B.C.

A tent erected by volunteers off a Downtown Eastside alley as a temporary measure to deal with a surge in overdoses has become one of the busiest supervised drug-consumption sites in the province nearly 20 months later | Globe and Mail, Canada

The meth house is a myth: There's 'no risk' from drug smoking residue, Govt report finds

A bombshell report shows there is no risk to humans from third-hand exposure to houses where methamphetamine has been consumed | NZHerald, New Zealand

Methamphetamine contamination in residential properties: Exposures, risk levels, and interpretation of standards (PDF)

There is currently no evidence that methamphetamine levels typically resulting from third-hand exposure to smoking residues on household surfaces can elicit an adverse health effect |CSA, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

Join Us in Celebrating the Lives of Those We Have Lost

On July 20, we will be honouring the 20th International Remembrance Day in London. The day celebrates the lives of people who use drugs who have passed away – many of whom died because of the repressive and stigmatising conditions imposed by prohibition | Release, UK

Adolescent cannabis use increases risk of an adult psychotic diagnosis

There have been dozens of previous epidemiological studies suggesting that cannabis use increases the risk of psychosis. For example a birth cohort study in New Zealand found that cannabis use at 18 increased psychotic symptoms at 28 after initial symptoms were accounted for | Mental Elf, UK

Fifteen years of crime reporting left me with PTSD. Magic mushrooms helped me begin to recover

My psychedelic experiences aimed at self-healing were transformative. In them, the same gunshot victims who had haunted my dreams now returned with a message of hope | Independent voices, UK

Let stressed-out people have a puff outside hospitals, for pity’ssake

Wales wants a ban smoking in all outdoor spaces but there’s no need to let all compassion go up in flames | Guardian opinion, UK

Sky Views: Is it time to decriminalise drugs?

Sitting in a prison in southeast London, the Justice Secretary told me: "There is a responsibility for middle-class people who take cocaine at a dinner party, that when they see a story of a 15-year-old being stabbed in Hackney, they should feel a degree of guilt and responsibility." | Sky News, UK

Lazy, Self-Serving, Incompetent MPs Decide To Blame Drug Consumers For The Consequences Of Their Failed Policies

Failed drugs policies have created a gigantic criminal market which uses violence and takes no responsibility for the quality or safety of its products | Clear, UK 

As an Oxycontin 'junkie' at Yale, I saw how my addiction helped fund the university

Through attending an Ivy League university as an addict, I learned that while I might be considered ‘deplorable’, elites are not much better | Guardian opinion, UK