Daily news - 27th August 2020

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UK news

Drinking in the dark: How alcohol labelling fails consumers (2020)

In this study we reviewed a random sample of 424 alcohol containers on shop shelves in October 2019 to assess whether labels included the UK’s Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) low-risk drinking guidelines and other essential pieces of information that would allow consumers to make informed choices | AHA UK, UK

Alcohol labelling is failing consumers

Leading health experts and charities are calling for the government to take responsibility for labelling on alcohol products, as new research finds that the current system fails to provide consumers with adequate information to make healthy decisions about their purchases | IAS, UK

Access to specialist community alcohol treatment in England, and the relationship with alcohol-related hospital admissions: qualitative study of service users, service providers and service commissioners

Our study reveals a treatment sector struggling with a multitude of problems; these pervade despite enaction of the HSCA, and are present at the national, service provider and individual service level. Although we acknowledge the problems are varied and multifaceted, their existence is echoed by the united voices of service users, service providers and service commissioners | BJPsych Open, UK

Scotland plans drug testing service aimed at saving lives

Illicit drug users in Scotland’s major cities could soon be offered a drug safety testing service that will tell them what substances they are really taking, and which it is hoped will save lives | The Ferret, UK

The big rise in small beer is the beginning of the end for hangovers

The first generation of craft beer drinkers have grown up: they want all the taste and none of the hangover. Indie brewers have risen to the challenge | WIRED, UK

No butts! Tobacco firms are warned they face tougher laws requiring them to pick up fag ends off UK streets unless they ramp up efforts to collect discarded cigarettes themselves

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow has summoned industry chiefs to a meeting to give them the choice of ramping up their own efforts to collect more discarded cigarette ends, or of being forced to do so | Mail Online, UK

Cocaine worth £4m hidden on Jamaica flights

About 22kg of the Class A drug was found in boxes of vegetables on a flight from Jamaica to Gatwick Airport on 11 August | BBC, UK

Drug gang's Birmingham properties worth £17m seized

A web of 59 properties, mainly in the West Midlands, was linked to the group of heroin dealers in east Birmingham | BBC, UK

Antonio Rodney-Cole: Drug dealer killed 'for mobile phone contacts'

Antonio Rodney-Cole, 22, died after being repeatedly stabbed in Stoke Newington, north-west London, on 2 December, 2013 | BBC, UK


International news

International Overdose Awareness Day - 31st August 2020

List of activities around the world | Penington Institute, Australia

Trump challenges Biden to drug test before debate

US President Donald Trump has called for himself and Democratic challenger Joe Biden to submit to drug tests before their first debate next month | BBC, UK

Stressed elephants at Warsaw zoo to be given medical marijuana

Three African elephants to get liquid doses of the cannabinoid CBD through their trunks. Early trials suggest they like it | Guardian, UK

Department spent €8,975 on couriers to collect and deliver medical cannabis during Covid-19

The Department of Health spent close to €9,000 on couriers to collect and deliver medical cannabis from the Netherlands for dozens of Irish patients, who could not travel abroad during the Covid-19 lockdown, the Irish Examiner has learned | Irish Examiner, Ireland

Repeat Self-Harm Following Hospital-Presenting Intentional Drug Overdose among Young People—A National Registry Study

Young males are at increased risk of repeat self-harm and method-switching following IDO and the type and quantity of drugs taken are further indicators of risk. Interventions targeting IDO among young people are needed that ensure that mental health assessments are undertaken and which address access to drugs | MDPI, Ireland

The Oldest Harm Reduction Organisation in Bulgaria Shut Down

In June 2020, all harm reduction services with public funding stopped in Bulgaria for the second time in three (2017-2020) years. The oldest, biggest, and most experienced harm reduction organisation, Initiative for Health Foundation, shut down too. No needle and syringe programs remained open in the country | Drug Reporter, Hungary

Tobacco lobby used ruling party to influence smoking policy: report

Despite the negotiations around the National Prevention Agreement being specifically designed to keep the tobacco industry and tobacco sellers from influencing it, the tobacco lobby managed to do just that, according to research by journalists from The Investigative Desk | NLTimes, Netherlands

Effects of MDMA Co-administration on the Response to LSD in Healthy Subjects (LSD-MDMA)- clinical trial

The present study, to be conducted at University Hospital, Basel, Switzerland, will assess the subjective and autonomic effects of LSD alone and in combination with MDMA | Clincal Trials, USA

Use of Codeine, Oxycodone, and Other Opioids: Information for Employees

If you are using opioids, are addicted to opioids, or were addicted to opioids in the past, but are not currently using drugs illegally, you should know that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) you may have the right to get reasonable accommodations and other protections that can help you keep your job | US EEOC, USA

Positive drug tests for employees hit 16-year high as marijuana legalization expands: report

As recreational marijuana legalization has expanded to 11 states plus the District of Columbia, positive workplace drug tests have reportedly climbed to a 16-year high | The Hill, USA

Study finds partygoers turn to virtual raves and happy hours during pandemic

People have traded in nightclubs and dance festivals for virtual raves and Zoom happy hours as a result of lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic—yet, many are using drugs in these socially distanced settings, according to a new study... | Medical Xpress, USA

The Role of Stress, Trauma, and Negative Affect in Alcohol Misuse and Alcohol Use Disorder in Women

[Open access] This paper addresses the key roles of stress, trauma, childhood maltreatment, negative affect, and mood and anxiety disorders; sex differences in the presentation of these psychosocial and psychological factors; and their contributions to alcohol misuse, escalation to binge and heavy drinking, and transition to AUD in women | ARCR, USA

Need another reason not to vape? Your oral health is at risk

The warnings about vaping—inhaling the vapor of electronic cigarettes—tend to focus on the potential dangers to the heart and lungs | Medical Xpress, USA

Opioid overdoses among Medicaid cohort examined

Over the past two decades, opioid overdose mortality nationwide more than doubled from 21,000 deaths in 2000 to 47,000 deaths in 2017. In a new study of Medicaid enrollees, a team of LDI fellows sheds light on the degree to which new or repeated overdoses may be driving this trend—with significant implications for overdose reduction | Medical Xpress, USA

Overdoses are on the rise. Is it time to provide medication assisted treatment in NC prisons?

COVID-19 stalled the expansion of medication assisted treatment into NC’s prisons, but the demand for it is just as high -- if not increasing | North Carolina News, USA

21 to Drink? The Debate Around America’s Outlier Status 

America’s minimum drinking age law, set nationally at 21 since 1984, appears to be written in stone. But in 2008, a glossy campaign to lower the drinking age, called the Amethyst Initiative, shook up the age-old debate about youth drinking for the first time in decades | Filter Magazine, USA

Despite Fentanyl’s Ubiquity, Test Strips Can Still Empower Drug Users

As the presence of illicit fentanyl has reached near-ubiquity in many North American heroin supplies, some harm reductionists have questioned the utility of drug checking as an overdose prevention strategy | Filter Magazine, USA

Music News: National Harm Reduction Announces Virtual Concert To Promote Overdose Awareness

National Harm Reduction has announced that its first-ever International Overdose Awareness Day Virtual Concert will be happening on Monday, August 31st | Live Ete TV, USA

The burden of alcohol on health care during COVID‐19

[Open access] In many countries, alcohol is now more readily available and affordable than ever before, a situation global alcohol producers benefit from and have helped engineer. We argue that to protect frontline health‐care services and public health more generally, it is essential that modest, evidence‐based restrictions on alcohol prices, availability and marketing are introduced | Drug and Alcohol Review, Canada

Scale up of Managed Alcohol Programs (MAP) (PDF)

In this bulletin, we provide some beginning guidance and suggestions for organizations looking to initiate or scale up a MAP | University of Victoria, Canada

Request for Proposals Closing the Gaps in Cannabis Research - Submission Date: September 4, 2020

Since the legalization and regulation of cannabis for non-medical purposes in October 2018, the ways in which Canadians use cannabis have increased and diversified. While some data are being collected to measure the impact of the legalization of non-medical cannabis on public health and safety, knowledge gaps remain. We are seeking to fill these gaps as well as help to inform the legislative review of the Cannabis Act | CCSA, Canada

Calls for safer supply of drugs as B.C. records 175 overdose deaths in July

British Columbia recorded 175 overdose deaths in July as paramedics responded to a record 2,706 non-fatal overdoses, prompting health officials to call for greater access to a safer supply of drugs as a top priority | Times Colonist, Canada

Illicit drug use and awareness of health and policing initiatives at music festivals among people from New South Wales who regularly use ecstasy and other illicit stimulants

The Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS) and the Ecstasy and Related Drug Reporting System (EDRS) are national drug monitoring systems intended to identify emerging trends of local and national concern in illicit drug markets, and form part of Drug Trends | NDARC, Australia

Consultation: Proposed amendments to the Poisons Standard - ACMS, ACCS and Joint ACMS/ACCS meetings, November 2020

Proposed amendments referred for scheduling advice to ACMS #32 include Cannabidiol and Psilocybin | Australian Government / Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia

The campaign to combat Covid drinking

Taking a mass media approach has helped the Alcohol and Drug Foundation extend its reach for a new campaign to tackle the uptick in drinking during the pandemic | CMO, Australia

Helen Clark appointed chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy

Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has been appointed the chair of the 26-member Global Commission on Drug Policy | Stuff, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

RIP Public Health England - What now for drugs and alcohol?

The abolition of Public Health England (PHE) announced last week could substantially affect drug and alcohol services - how they are commissioned, how they are experienced by the people who use them, how we will monitor their success and how we will support and incentivise good practice | Sara McGrail blog, UK

Random drug testing for employees to fight knife crime is divisive and morally cruel

I hope Shaun Bailey and his team rethink this announcement. They are in a position to make a difference on the issue of drugs – not by marginalising and blaming people, but by providing leadership | Independent voices, UK

Doctors working in the COVID-19 shadow

For Dr David Bremner, a Responsible Officer (RO) for Turning Point, a national charity specialising in everything from addictions to treating people with learning disabilities, doctors reflecting on whether their careers have been in vain is a reality faced by some of his colleagues | GMC blog, UK

Comment: Why Home-Growing is Fundamental to a Legal Cannabis Model

The laws regarding cannabis are quite contradictory in the US. They vary from state to state, so one must be aware of cannabis regulations concerning cultivation before starting to grow it | Volteface comment, UK

A safer drug supply: a pragmatic and ethical response to the overdose crisis

In related research, Crabtree and colleagues provide an important snapshot of the toxic drug supply fuelling an overdose epidemic that has killed more than 6000 people in British Columbia since 2014 | CMAJ commentary, Canada



And finally...

Why do birds sing? Because they’re all on drugs

The dawn chorus is created by birds chasing their next hit of opioid, according to a US biologist. Which explains why it’s so much like free-form jazz | Guardian, UK