Daily news - 29th May 2019

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UK news

Drug-Related Hospital Statistics Scotland 2017/18 (PDF)

This release by Information Services Division reports on hospital stays in relation to a drug misuse diagnosis. This report describes the number of drug-related hospital stays, the number and characteristics of patients admitted to hospital, the substances involved and the geographical variations within Scotland. This includes information on inequalities and some of the health impacts of drug misuse | ISD Scotland, UK

Drug-related hospital admissions highest ever, figures say

Almost 8,000 people were admitted to hospital in Scotland in the year 2017/18 for drug-related reasons, according to new figures | BBC, UK

Acceptance is at the root of benefits and criticisms

Throughout the month of May we have been unpacking the issue of harm reduction. We are ending this series by spotlighting two forms of harm reduction marked by their unmistakable acceptance (not just tolerance) of illicit drug use. Drug consumption rooms and drug safety testing rebuff the notion that drugs are inherently harmful, standing instead for the need to change the context in which drug use takes place – a context that can either minimise harm, or cause/magnify harm | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Red wine molecule offers new high blood pressure hope

A new treatment for high blood pressure could be on the horizon after BHF-funded scientists today revealed how a molecule found in red wine causes drops in blood pressure. The study, published in the journal Circulation, sheds light on how the compound could help scientists combat heart and circulatory diseases | BHF, UK

Fertility paradox in male beauty quest

Scientists have uncovered an evolutionary paradox where men damage their ability to have children during efforts to make themselves look more attractive | BBC, UK

Prisoners using e-cigarettes to smoke smuggled ‘spice’

[Free registration maybe required] Prisoners have found a way of “smoking” the synthetic drug known as spice in e-cigarettes, which they are allowed to use after the justice ministry implemented a smoking ban in jails | The Times, UK

Ex-minister Gus Macdonald covers grandson’s £90k drug debt

[Free registration may be required] A former minister in Tony Blair’s government has paid £90,000 confiscated by a court from his drug-dealing grandson who was arrested after the death of a reality television star | The Times, UK

Love Island bosses reveal strict alcohol rules ahead of new series

Bosses have cracked down on a number of matters, including the aftercare they provide to alcohol and smoking in the villa | Daily Star, UK


International news

Former opioid addict says pharmaceutical companies should be held accountable for drug crisis

A former police officer who battled his own opioid addiction believes pharmaceutical companies who promote the medication "absolutely have to be held accountable" as the first opioid lawsuit begins in the US | ITV, UK

Dial a dealer: dozens charged after ordering cocaine and other drugs in front of police

Police officers charge 28 people with drug supply and 27 with possession | Guardian, UK

North Korea set to launch its own whisky - but does it taste any good?

A North Korean distillery has created its own brand of whisky and aims to launch it by the end of the year, according to a foreign tour group that recently enjoyed its first dram | Telegraph, UK

2019 International Harm Reduction Conference in Porto – All the Videos

We filmed the largest international harm reduction gathering to give you an insight on what is happening with this movement around the world | Drug Reporter, Hungary

The message that addiction is a disease makes substance users less likely to seek help

Research finds that people with substance-use problems who read a message describing addiction as a disease are less likely to report wanting to engage in effective therapies, compared to those who read a message that addiction behaviors are subject to change. The finding could inform future public and interpersonal communication efforts regarding addiction | Science Daily, USA

Landmark US opioid trial begins in Oklahoma

The first civil trial that could end up holding a drug company responsible for the US opioid epidemic began Tuesday in Oklahoma, in a landmark case that might impact thousands of others like it | Medical Xpress, USA

Notes from the Field: Acute Poisonings from a Synthetic Cannabinoid Sold as Cannabidiol — Utah, 2017–2018

On December 8, 2017, the Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) notified the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) of reports of emergency department visits associated with reported exposure to products labeled as CBD (cannabidiol) | CDC, USA

Stem cell study reveals the harmful effects of flavored e-cigarette liquids

Your favorite vape flavor may be more harmful than the nicotine itself. Using stem cells to investigate the impact of e-liquids on cardiovascular disease, a new study has revealed the harmful effects of flavored e-cigarette liquids and e-cigarette use | News Medical, USA

Why Drug Dealers Are an Under-Utilized Anti-Overdose Resource

Last year, a man in his 20s attending Electric Forest, a Michigan music festival, began to cry after discovering that the cocaine he had been selling tested positive for fentanyl—the potent opioid significantly driving the overdose crisis | Filter Magazine, USA

The Movement to Make Shrooms Legal Is Gaining Momentum

Denver just decriminalized the drug, and Oakland could be next | VICE, USA

Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction

The Government formally responded to recommendations of the independent Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction in May 2019 | Ministry of Health, New Zealand

Taking mental health and addiction seriously

The Government’s response to He Ara Oranga (the report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction) shows just how seriously the Government is taking mental health and addiction says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern | Beehive Government, New Zealand

Serious action on alcohol side-lined in Gov inquiry

Alcohol Healthwatch is alarmed that ‘further consideration’ is needed to reduce the impact of alcohol use on mental health and addiction. Of the 40 recommendations in the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry report, the Government has ‘agreed’ or ‘agreed in principle’ to the majority – leaving the recommendations that relate to taking strong action on alcohol needing ‘further consideration’ | Scoop, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

‘Cannabis Law is Simply Criminal’. Letter to the Sunday Times, 26th May 2019

“Everyone with any common sense and even the slightest knowledge of the subject must realise that the prohibition of cannabis is an absurd law that causes far more harm than it has ever prevented and drives a multibillion criminal market throughout Europe, which causes all sorts of other consequential harms.” | Sunday Times letters, UK

Alcohol worsens disadvantages

With a welcome spotlight being shone on rising inequality this week it is worth noting that alcohol makes it harder for poorer people to succeed in a game already heavily weighted against them | Phil Cain, UK

Forging language for change

Creating change around alcohol and elsewhere requires us to describe dynamic situations accurately, an area where English could be improved | Phil Cain, UK

New US airstrikes obscure a dramatic development in the Afghan drugs industry – the proliferation of low cost methamphetamine 

Earlier this month US and Afghan forces bombed 68 drugs labs in South-western Afghanistan, claiming that they caused the Taliban losses of over $1 million per day. David Mansfield and Alexander Soderholm write that not only have the effects of these strikes been exaggerated, their promotion obscures a new reality on the ground: a dramatic growth in the methamphetamine industry in Afghanistan, fuelled by a ready supply of a home grown ephedra crop | LSE Blog, UK

CBD: The next weapon in the war against opioid addiction?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is everywhere, with word on the street saying that it can cure everything from a bad mood to cancer. However, most of these claims are not based on scientific evidence | Conversation, USA

Doping soldiers so they fight better – is it ethical?

The military is constantly using technology to build better ships, warplanes, guns and armor. Shouldn’t it also use drugs to build better soldiers? | Conversation, USA