Daily news - 20th January 2020

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UK news

The prison system: Priorities for investment (PDF)

An insight into the prison system with recommendations for change. Includes a discussion on the use of drugs in prison and notes that in the 12 months to March 2019, 17 per cent of drug tests on prisoners were positive | Reform, UK

Proportion of UK prisoners with drug problem doubles in five years – study

Prisons not equipped to stop drug supply and security standards vary, thinktank [Reform] says | Guardian, UK

UK police boss demands crown prosecution protects cannabis patients

A UK police and crime commissioner in Wales is calling for assurances that people using cannabis for medicinal purposes will not be prosecuted | Health Europa, UK

Alcohol and Drug Services (Evaluation)

To ask the Scottish Government how it evaluates the delivery of alcohol and drug services | They work for you, UK

Smoking: Health Services

To ask Her Majesty's Government what research they have undertaken into the correlation between reductions in Public Health England's anti-smoking budget and the number of smokers in England; and what are their projections for the future costs to the NHS of treating smoking-related illnesses as a result of any such reductions | They work for you, UK

Drugs: Rehabilitation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how much has been spent from the public purse on substance misuse services in (a) the North West, (b) Liverpool City Region, (c) Wirral and (d) Wallasey | They work for you, UK

Addicted to Painkillers? Britain’s Opioid Crisis - BBC iPlayer

The opioid epidemic has devastated America. But what is the situation here? A new report from Public Health England raises serious concerns about Britain's own relationship with painkillers | BBC, UK

'Shambles' over Graham Saffery's prescription drug death

The family of a man who died from a prescription drug overdose have said communication between those that cared for him was a "shambles" | BBC, UK

Snapchat drug dealers target Middlesbrough children

The BBC's Inside Out used a 14-year-old decoy, whose profile clearly showed he was a schoolboy, who was able to buy two grams of MDMA | BBC, UK

Crown and university forensics row leading to cause of death delays

A grieving mother has been told that she will face an “unbearable” nine-month wait for a toxicology report on her daughter’s death because of a backlog facing the service caused by a dispute over funding | National, UK

'Amazon and eBay parcels' used to disguise drug drops by suppliers

Illicit shipments have been made to look like official deliveries from online retailers | Liverpool Echo, UK

'Sobriety tag': Grimsby offender says trial changed his life

A man who was sentenced to wear a so-called sobriety tag for three months after committing an offence says it changed his life | BBC, UK

County lines: Why one Suffolk teenager said no to drugs dealers - video

A teenager who was targeted by county lines drugs dealers has described how he turned his life around | BBC, UK

UK brewers invest in low-alcohol drinks trend

Brewdog to open alcohol-free beer bar in London as ‘nolo’ sales rise 18% in western Europe | Guardian, UK

Not a drop to drink: raising an empty glass to Britain's least boozy towns

We picture the ‘roaring Twenties’ as a period of excess – and yet for many it was a time of restriction. Namely, in the United States, the restriction of alcohol | Telegraph, UK

100 years of prohibition: Does banning anything ever work? - video

Round table discussion. It is 100 years since prohibition came into force in the US - outlawing the sale of alcohol. It was derided as a public policy disaster and eventually overturned. But does banning things ever work? | Roundtable, UK

The magic of mushrooms in arts – in pictures

“I noticed so many artists working with fungi,” says curator Francesca Gavin, “I wanted to learn why.” This has led to a new Somerset House show, Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi (30 January to 26 April), a 130-year cultural history featuring artists and designers including Cy Twombly, Carsten Höller, Beatrix Potter, Tom Dixon and Takashi Murakami | Guardian, UK


International news

What is the best protection against blood-borne viruses?

“Strong evidence” for a harm reduction approach comes from a recent study tracking what happened to new HIV diagnoses when two US cities abandoned their prohibition on supply of injecting equipment in favour of legal provision via needle exchanges | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Cannabis compound could be weapon in fight against superbugs

A compound made by cannabis plants has been found to wipe out drug-resistant bacteria and break down persistent films of the microbes, raising hopes for a new weapon in the fight against superbugs | Guardian, UK

Balearic islands pass bill targeting boozy Brits abroad

Law bans happy hours, free bars and makes it illegal to advertise pub crawls | Guardian, UK

Acclaimed scientist gets brain surgery for alcohol addiction

Microbiologist Frank Plummer has been on the frontlines of the battle against of some of the world's most alarming epidemics, from HIV to Ebola - but his illustrious career masked a growing reliance on alcohol. Now, the researcher has become the guinea pig in a clinical trial investigating whether brain implants can help treat alcohol use disorder | BBC, UK

Drug cartel members tunnel way out of Paraguay prison

Officials believed complicit in escape of at least 75 prisoners, including members of notorious Brazilian gang | Guardian, UK

Philippines: No Letup in ‘Drug War’ Killings

The Philippine government’s murderous “war on drugs” remained the Philippines’ gravest human rights concern in 2019, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2020. Security forces were also implicated in often deadly attacks on activists | HRW, USA

Most EVALI Patients Used THC-Containing Products as New Cases Continue To Decline

CDC released two reports on e-cigarette, or vaping product use–associated lung injury (EVALI), confirming that most EVALI patients report using tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products and that new EVALI cases have continued to decline with time. The first MMWR report updates EVALI patient demographic and self-reported substance use characteristics. The second MMWR report summarizes characteristics of EVALI patients in Illinois by substances used in e-cigarette, or vaping, products | CDC, USA

CDC removes advisory from website recommending to consider stopping all vaping

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has rolled back its overarching recommendation that people refrain from vaping while the agency conducts its investigation into the outbreak of respiratory illnesses linked to the practice | The Hill, USA

JACEP Open: Vaping emergencies may initially go unrecognized

Diagnosing EVALI--the e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury illness that's recently garnered national attention--can be challenging | EurekAlert, USA

Association of Educational Attainment and Race/Ethnicity With Exposure to Tobacco Advertisement Among US Young Adults

This cross-sectional study among 6700 US young adults found a weaker inverse association of educational attainment with exposure to tobacco advertisement among Hispanic young adults compared with non-Hispanic young adults | JAMA Open, USA

In Oval Office Meeting, Trump Expresses Regret on Vaping Policy

The president interrupted a meeting with campaign advisers to scold his health and human services secretary about the administration’s ban on most flavored e-cigarettes | NYTimes, USA

FDA Agrees to Expanded Access Program for MDMA-Assisted Psychotherapy for PTSD

Today, the non-profit Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has agreed to MAPS’ application for an Expanded Access program for MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) | MAPS, USA

Biometric opioid dispensing machine first of its kind to address demand for safer drug supply

Derick Walker touches the machine’s glass surface and holds his palm up to a scanner when prompted. He answers some survey-style questions – “How do you feel today?” – before the device whirs and dispenses a small plastic package containing four white tablets. The whole process has taken a few seconds | Globe and Mail, Canada

Focus on opioids and cannabis in chronic pain media coverage

New Zealand media reports on chronic pain are focusing on treatments involving opioids and cannabis at the expense of best practice non-drug treatments, researchers have found | EurekAlert, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

The latest intelligence on drug health harms

Very helpful update from the national intelligence network on the health harms associated with drug use with a focus on drug-related deaths and peer harm reduction | Russell Webster, UK

Bucking the Trend in Alcohol Treatment

Working in alcohol and drug services over the past 24 years, I have seen a number of changes including the move from alcohol specific services to alcohol and drug integrated services. Despite alcohol misuse having been identified as the biggest risk factor for death, ill health and disability across the 15-49 year old age group, there has been a reduction in those being treated for alcohol dependence | Cranstoun, UK

Are we seeing a reversal of declining youth drinking trends in Scotland?

Dr Melissa Oldham spots some worrying signs from the official data | IAS blog, UK

Pills, Powder and Smoke by Antony Loewenstein; Say Why to Drugs by Dr Suzi Gage – review

Two books try to unravel our continuing fascination with illegal drugs – with varying degrees of success | Guardian, UK

Fentanyl: The Most Dangerous Illegal Drug in America

Drug overdoses kill more Americans than car crashes, gunshots, or AIDS at its peak. But it's no longer just a crisis of prescription pills or heroin | RAND blog, USA

Cannabis edibles pose serious risks to our kids

In October 2019, Health Canada approved the sale of cannabis edibles, topicals and extracts for early 2020. Let us hope that one of Health Canada’s New Year’s resolutions is to do a better job of regulating cannabis and protecting the public, and in particular youth, from harm | Conversation, Canada

Anniversary of the War on Drugs - a young ACT statement

Today marks 100 years since America began waging a war on drugs. This war cannot be won; the effects of prohibition have long pointed this out. In fact, young ACT believes drug prohibition causes more harm than the precise drugs it aims to protect us from | SCOOP, New Zealand