Daily news - 24th August 2020

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UK news

PHE survey deadline extended to Friday 28 August
Commissioners and providers have another week to complete the PHE surveys on drug treatment spend and workforce capacity, the results of which will be used to inform the second part of Dame Carol Black’s review and the current Treasury spending review | PHE, UK

Psychiatrists sound alarm over the thousands hooked on the anxiety drug they call 'Valium on steroids' as a top magazine editor reveals her battle to kick pregabalin

Harry Shapiro, director of Drugwise, an online drug information service, believes there could be hundreds of thousands Britons hooked on these drugs, unable to stop taking them | Mail Online, UK

Rise in number of British soldiers being sacked for drug use

MoD data shows 660 army personnel were dismissed in 2019 after failing a drug test | Guardian, UK

Social prescribing and multiple disadvantage (PDF)

In this latest Policy into Practice briefing, our Policy and Practice Manager Richard Lewis outlines the key elements of social prescribing and the implications it has for people experiencing multiple disadvantage | MEAM, UK

London mayor candidate Shaun Bailey wants firms to test staff for drugs to help stamp out gang violence

The Conservative London mayor candidate said the aim of mandatory drugs tests on staff would not be to get people fired, but to change the culture around drug use | Evening Standard, UK

Labelling tobacco products after the end of the transition period

Guidance on how the rules for labelling tobacco products will change from 1 January 2021 | DHSC, UK

Coronavirus: Charities warn of alcohol problems increasing in lockdown

Alcohol charities are warning of the dangers of more people drinking during the pandemic | BBC, UK

Coronavirus: 'I became alcoholic during lockdown'

Before lockdown, Chris McLone was looking forward to a good year. In his late 40s, he felt fit and healthy, enjoying life with a successful career as a sales manager | BBC, UK

COVID-19 useful links 20 August 2020

This page contains the latest COVID-19 related links as of  20th August 2020 | SSA, UK

The dual public health emergency and advocating for change - international perspectives - Webinar

Fri, Aug 28, 1:00pm to 2:00pm. The second of two webinars with international speakers that the Scottish Drugs Forum are hosting to mark International Overdose Awareness Day 2020. We will hear about how the dual public health emergency of drug-related deaths and Covid-19 has affected people who use drugs in Canada and Australia, the impact of this dual crisis on families and the changes now being advocated for | SDF, UK

HIV in Lanarkshire Briefing - Webinar

Weds, Aug 26, 10:30am to 12pm. Lanarkshire Blood Borne Viruses (BBV) Network & Scottish Drugs Forum (SDF) presents the HIV in Lanarkshire – All Staff Briefing Webinar. The webinar is free and open to all staff working in Health and Social Care, Third Sector Drug & Alcohol Services, Mental Health, Criminal Justice, Homeless Services, Pharmacy and Primary Care | SDF, UK

Impact of Coronavirus on Drug Purchases - Survey

The purpose of this survey is to monitor changes in the UK’s drug supply – and how people buy their drugs – that may arise following lockdown restrictions because of coronavirus, and moving forward, as lockdown lifts across most of UK. Even if you have filled this survey in before, we’d like to encourage you to fill it in again!| Release, UK

Rave on: the rise of middle-aged clubbing culture during lockdown

Facemasks and gloves are back – and so are ravers. Lockdown has precipitated a revival of 90s rave culture with middle-aged clubbers reliving their youth … albeit with less dancing and more armchairs | Guardian, UK

Coronavirus: New £10,000 fines for organisers of illegal raves from Friday

Police in England will be able to fine organisers of illegal gatherings of more than 30 people such as raves up to £10,000 from Friday, ministers say | BBC, UK

Six men arrested for drug offences following CBD shop warrants in Croydon

Officers have made a number of arrests after carrying out warrants at several shops in south London that are suspected of illegally selling cannabis | Metropoliltan Police, UK

Cannabis smuggling crime group jailed for 14 years

Four Manchester men involved in an £800,000 cannabis trafficking operation have been sentenced to a combined 13 years and nine months in prison following a National Crime Agency investigation | NCA, UK

Northampton man jailed for £5.7m of 'Gucci' cocaine hid in van

Nabil Chaudhry, 31, of Moat Lane, Northampton, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and possessing criminal property | BBC, UK


International news

Colombia offers reward after eight young partygoers killed

The government of Colombia has offered a reward of 200m pesos ($53,000; £40,000) for information about the killing of eight people in south-western Nariño province | BBC, UK

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS)

The Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) monitors six categories of health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults, including smoking and alcohol and other drug use | CDC, USA

Rise in youth use of e-cigarettes is a major concern

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown issued the following statement in response to today's release of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey... | Medical Xpress, USA

Patients battling opioid addiction in central Appalachia face issues accessing drug treatment

Despite its proven effectiveness as a treatment for opioid use disorders (OUD), buprenorphine is not reaching patients in central Appalachia, the epicenter of the opioid crisis in the United States, according to investigators from the Emory Rollins School of Public Health | Medical Xpress, USA

80% of Americans can't accurately identify opioids, study finds

Most Americans could not accurately distinguish opioids from other types of medications in a recent survey conducted by health IT company DrFirst, a finding that is particularly problematic as the opioid crisis continues to be exacerbated by the pandemic | Becker Hospital Review, USA

Inside the Work of a New York Psychedelic Trip Guide

Prometheus checked into a hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2018 with just a backpack, orange juice, and a bag of psilocybin mushrooms. Upstairs, he met Arlen for only his second time. They spent three hours together | Filter Magazine, USA

COVID-19 and Cannabis Smoking and Vaping: Four Things You Should Know [report]

Summarizes four important facts currently known about COVID-19 and how it can affect people who smoke or vape cannabis products. Topics covered include the potential impact of smoking or vaping cannabis on lung health, the potential impact on the immune system, how it can have an impact on people infected with COVID-19 and guidance for reducing harms | CCSA, Canada

Illicit fentanyl, stimulants found in majority of overdose deaths in BC

Nonprescribed fentanyl and stimulants were the primary contributors to overdose mortality, while few people had prescribed opioids in their systems, according to new toxicology research | EurekAlert, Canada

Australia’s Alcohol and Other Drug Workforce: National Survey Results 2019-2020 (PDF)

The 2019-2020 National Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Workforce Survey was undertaken to inform national and jurisdictional workforce planning and workforce development initiatives. This was the first national survey of the Australian AOD workforce since 2005. This report presents the preliminary findings from the National AOD Workforce Survey describing broad trends and themes, pending full publication of our data comprising in-depth analysis | NCETA, Australia

Australian first as ACT Greens secure commitment to regular pill-testing

The ACT Greens are pleased today to have secured a commitment from ACT Labor to explore a pill-testing site in the ACT this Summer - an Australian-first that will build on the success of earlier trials at music festivals | ACT Greens, Australia

Health regulator confirms e-cigarette ban

Australia's health regulator has formalised a ban on e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, rejecting suggestions they present a safer alternative for smokers and people trying to quit | Canberra Times, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

The future of public health: many questions still to be answered

I wrote in January that 2020 would be a big year for public health. How prescient, but events have not occurred in the way I meant. England has seen more than 49,000 deaths where Covid-19 was confirmed or thought to be a contributory factor by early August and the announcement of the demise of Public Health England (PHE) as we know it | The King's Fund blog, UK

If the narcotics trade can boost development and bring peace, it’s time to rethink the ‘war on drugs’

The borders of Afghanistan, Colombia and Myanmar are some of the most contested and unstable parts of the world, yet the drug trade can paradoxically create and maintain some sense of stability and order | Independent voices, UK

See alcohol’s threat to freedoms

We should not be surprised that people see overcoming their alcohol problems as a great liberation, because alcohol can undermine every form of freedom conceived | Phil Cain, UK

CBDs: are they the elusive hangover-free drinks?

Cannabidiols (CBDs), the non-psychoactive element of cannabis, are legal and widely sold in drinks. Do they work, could they replace alcohol – and are they even drinkable? We test five candidates ... | Guardian, UK

How charities are rising to the COVID challenge - part 2

In our last blog, a selection of our charities told us about how they are adapting to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in our latest post we wanted to shine a light on some more of these amazing charities, as they react to these unprecedented times. [Includes The Forward Trust] | Advent of Change, UK

Decriminalization is just the start of real reform – and drug users need to be part of the conversation

The debate around decriminalizing all drugs, including heroin and cocaine, has moved decidedly into Canada’s mainstream | Globe and Mail opinion, Canada

Helen Clark: New Zealand's smoke-free gains among my proudest achievements, but there's more work to do

Thirty years ago, New Zealand dreamed a big dream – to prevent the harm and death caused by tobacco smoking. At the time, one in three adult New Zealanders – adults and youth – smoked regularly | Stuff, New Zealand