Daily news - 17th February 2020

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UK news

A quarter of street drugs are fake and dangerous to users

As overdose deaths rise, many buyers don’t know strength or content of what they buy | Guardian, UK

Reported road casualties in Great Britain, provisional estimates involving illegal alcohol levels: 2018

Provisional estimates on personal injury drink drive accidents in Great Britain for 2018 | Department for Transport, UK

Drink-driving crashes increase by four per cent on Britain's roads 

Provisional estimates reveal that 5,900 accidents in 2018 involved at least one driver over the alcohol limit, the Department for Transport (DfT) said | Telegraph, UK

Welsh alcohol minimum pricing awareness campaign starts

A campaign is being launched to remind shoppers and retailers of the start of minimum alcohol pricing in Wales. From 2 March, retailers will have to charge at least 50p a unit, meaning a typical bottle of wine would not cost less than £4.69 | BBC, UK

Police Scotland develop proposals to trial Naloxone

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie, Partnerships and Prevention, will chair a delivery steering group with a range of partners, including the Scottish Drugs Death Task Force, police staff associations and National Health Service, to develop proposals for a Test of Change for officers to carry Naloxone while on patrol | Police Scotland, UK

Police Scotland officers set to trial drug overdose spray

The move comes after it emerged paramedics are to train families of heroin users how to use Naloxone kits | BBC, UK

Plan for Scotland's first medical cannabis clinic in Aberdeen

Sapphire Medical Clinic plans to be the first clinic to "prescribe medical cannabis for all conditions acknowledged to benefit" | BBC, UK

Cigarette prices have risen following standardised packaging, despite warnings

The cost of smoking in the UK has risen since the advent of 'plain packs' for cigarettes in 2017, countering claims made by the tobacco industry at the time that the public health measure would lead to discount pricing | Medical Xpress, UK

What constitutes effective problematic substance use treatment from the perspective of people who are homeless? A systematic review and meta-ethnography

[Open access] People experiencing homelessness have higher rates of problematic substance use but difficulty engaging with treatment services. There is limited evidence regarding how problematic substance use treatment should be delivered for these individuals | Harm Reduction Journal, UK

Associations between interrelated dimensions of socio-economic status, higher risk drinking and mental health in South East London: A cross-sectional study

[Open access] Across distinct socio-economic groups in a large inner-city sample, we found important differences in harmful and dependent drinking, only some of which were explained by common mental disorder | PLOS One, UK

Meeting the urgent and long-term needs of homeless people

To what extent are substance use services geared towards ‘meeting people where they’re at’ versus showing them ‘where they need to be’? How can services ensure that homeless people aren’t inadvertently excluded and derailed from their short- and long-term goals? | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Tobacco: Packaging

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has to amend regulations on the packaging of tobacco products | They work for you, UK

Prescription Drugs: Misuse

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to develop and launch a national helpline which is open 24 hours every day to support those affected by prescribed drug dependence; and whether such a service will be developed with the input of relevant charities and patient groups | They work for you, UK

Commission on Alcohol Harm: An Inquiry into the Effects of Alcohol on Society - closing date for submissions is noon today

The Commission has been established to examine the current evidence on alcohol harm, recent trends in alcohol harm and the changes needed to reduce the harm caused by alcohol. The Commission will also examine the need for a new comprehensive alcohol strategy for England, which takes account of the strategies in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and considers UK-wide priorities in areas where policy is not devolved | AHAUK, UK

Reducing ill-health, hospitalisation & death among people who use drugs - free event

Thu, 5 March 2020. 13:00 – 15:30 GMT. University of Strathclyde. Sharing learning on meeting the physical health needs of people who use heroin and/or cocaine to reduce health inequalities and mortality | DRNS, UK

Relaxation of licensing hours to mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day

Section 172 of the Licensing Act 2003 allows the Secretary of State for the Home Department to make a Licensing Hours Order (‘Order’) relaxing opening hours for licensed premises (any premises with a premises licence or a club premises certificate) in England and Wales to mark an occasion of ‘exceptional international, national or local significance’ | They work for you, UK

The pub is dead! Long live the micropub! - audio

Britain has lost a quarter of its pubs in two decades. But others, like small micropubs, are popping up. Why are they succeeding when the traditional boozer is struggling? | BBC, UK

Should Middlesbrough Council help addicts to use drugs?

Danny Ahmed, clinical partner at specialist clinical care provider Foundations, told the panel that death rates among addicts was “medieval” | Northern Echo, UK

County Lines Criminal Activity

What steps the CPS is taking to prosecute people responsible for county lines criminal activity | They work for you, UK

Durham's pioneering police scheme slashes reoffending rates

Exclusive: scheme allows offenders to avoid prosecution if they take part in rehabilitation programme | Guardian, UK

Hell-on-Sea: how a drugs gang took over a sleepy Devon town

For more than a decade, a group of criminals brought drugs, fear and violence to Dawlish | Observer, UK

Tip-off website signals the end for dangerous college initiation rituals

The days of university initiation ceremonies – at which students are compelled to perform outrageous tasks, usually while extremely drunk, in order to join a sports club or society – are numbered | Guardian, UK

'Legal high' sellers ordered to pay back £500,000

Two drug dealers have been ordered to pay back more than £500,000 of profits from selling so-called "legal highs" | BBC, UK

British woman repeatedly trafficked for sex after Home Office failures

High court judge intervenes to prevent victim of county lines sex exploitation being made street homeless after refusal to find her safe housing | Guardian, UK

Suspected heroin and herbal cannabis worth £655,000 seized in Belfast

Two men and two women have been arrested by police after the seizure of suspected drugs, including heroin and herbal cannabis, worth more than £655,000 | BBC, UK

Cannabis plants seized by police in Sussex raid

Six men and a woman held in Crawley area after officers found 1,410 plants worth £1.2m | Guardian, UK

Peterborough drug dealer hid guns under play area

A drug dealer who hid guns under children's play equipment in his garden has been jailed for 14 and a half years | BBC, UK


International news

Drug use will change significantly in the 2020s – here’s how

[DrugWise Director, Harry Shapiro quoted] From dangerous new synthetic drugs to a growing love of psychedelics, this is how our drug use could transform over the coming decade | Dazed, UK

Los Angeles to dismiss 66,000 marijuana convictions

Prosecutors working with not-for-profit tech group to use algorithms to find eligible cases in decades-old court documents | Guardian, UK

From khat to coffee: revitalising an age-old Yemeni crop

In Haraz, farmers and exporters are bringing new life to a globally acclaimed and desired product | Guardian, UK

Costa Rica makes biggest ever cocaine haul

Police in Costa Rica have made the biggest seizure of illegal drugs in the country's history - finding more than five tonnes of cocaine in a shipping container | BBC, UK

Nine homeless drug users shot dead in Afghan capital - police

Gunmen shot dead nine homeless drug users in the Afghan capital, officials said on Sunday, shining a light on chronic drug abuse in the world’s biggest producer of opium but a rare incident of apparently coordinated violence against addicts | Reuters, UK

Billy Caldwell: Breakthrough in battle to obtain medicinal cannabis on NHS

A High Court judge was told that a London-based paediatric neurologist is prepared to write the prescription for Co Tyrone teenager Billy Caldwell - if his trust gives him the green light | Irish Times, Ireland

Medical cost fears for families granted access to medicinal cannabis amid reimbursement uncertainty

Families granted access to medicinal cannabis under the State’s compassionate access programme fear crippling medical costs amid uncertainty over the HSE’s reimbursement policy | Irish Examiner, Ireland

Drug-related hospital emergency presentations in Europe: update from the Euro-DEN Plus expert network

This report presents the latest findings on drug-related hospital emergencies from a network of sentinel hospitals across Europe. Almost 24 000 emergency presentations were recorded at 32 sentinel hospitals over the first 4 years of the project. The data reveal that the substances most commonly involved in acute drug toxicity presentations include heroin, cocaine and cannabis. Prescription medicines are frequently reported. The report also sheds light on other aspects of drug-related emergencies such as clinical features, geographical variation, outcomes, demographics and time patterns | EMCDDA, Portugal

Doctors hit back at 'big tobacco' bid to sell vaping products in Australia

Doctors are fighting an application by global tobacco giant Philip Morris International to sell its "heat not burn" products in Australia, warning there is "no evidence" the product is any safer than smoking cigarettes | SMH, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

How can health and care services better support people who sleep rough?

The woman who spoke to us about what it was like sleeping rough looked so young and vulnerable | The Kings Fund blog, UK

Alcohol trends 2020

The Statistics on Alcohol for 2020 showed there were 358,000 admissions to hospital last year primarily due to alcohol consumption a 6% jump on the previous year | Russell Webster, UK

How Juul gets kids addicted to vaping: it's even worse than you think

Massachusetts is suing the e-cigarette company for its predatory ads to children. Hopefully other states will follow suit | Guardian, UK

The Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group: driving reform in the UK

The Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group weighs in on the current situation surrounding access to cannabis-based medicines in the UK | Health Europa, UK

Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro) To Publish Guidance on The Novel Foods Threat

Make no mistake, the attempt to seize control of the burgeoning CBD market under the guise of the EU Novel Foods Regulation is a hijack by bureaucrats and big business | Cannabis Professionals, UK

CGL team have changed my life

I’m a recovering addict. I got hooked on painkillers after an operation on my jaw and I’ve been working with CGL St Helens, mainly the family team | St Helen's Star letters, UK

Life after opioids: 'I went home and cried for a long time. I felt really stupid'

For people managing chronic pain, the push to reduce opioid prescription has left them feeling lost and unsupported | Guardian, UK

What an 1890s opioid epidemic can teach us about ending addiction today

In the ’90s, chronic pain was rampant in America. Opioids, which had previously been taboo, were suddenly being prescribed by doctors. A supposedly safer opioid had been developed which, as a physician wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine, was “not a hypnotic” and carried no “danger of acquiring the habit.” | STAT News opinion, USA

The Story The Pharmacist Can’t Tell

It’s easy to see, from the opening minutes of the new four-part Netflix show The Pharmacist, why its directors took one meeting with Dan Schneider and decided to structure a true-crime series around him | The Atlantic, USA

Dismantling NY Mag’s Disgraceful Hit-Job on Vaping

New York Magazine ran an article this month—in its “Intelligencer” vertical, of all places—with the provocative title: “Who Thought Sucking on a Battery Was a Good Idea? Vaping is a health crisis that has only just begun.” | Filter Magazine, USA

Cannabis and integrative medicine in Canada

Dr Dani Gordon, double board-certified medical doctor speaks to Health Europa Quarterly about her journey in the medical cannabis industry and how it fits into integrative medicine | Medical Cannabis Network, Canada