Daily news - 19th March 2020

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UK news

Benzodiazepines and opioids: reminder of risk of potentially fatal respiratory depression

Benzodiazepines and opioids can both cause respiratory depression, which can be fatal if not recognised in time. Only prescribe together if there is no alternative and closely monitor patients for signs of respiratory depression | MHRA, UK

Rough sleepers must be treated as vulnerable group, warn charities

Leading homelessness charities have written to the Prime Minister calling for those sleeping rough to be recognised as a vulnerable group as the coronavirus outbreak takes hold | ITV, UK

Health Secretary: “It is abundantly clear that smoking makes the impact of a coronavirus worse”

As the Government again highlights the risks to smokers from COVID-19, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is joining health professionals in calling on smokers to #QuitforCovid | ASH, UK

Smoking cessation 2: supporting older people to quit

This article, the second in a five-part series on smoking cessation, outlines why nurses should give older people stop-smoking advice and how best to approach it and reinforce the smokefree message | Nursing Times, UK

Coronavirus: Vaping in public places could lead to spread of condition

A bacteria expert has warned against the dangers of vaping during the coronavirus outbreak - claiming those inhaling the fumes produced by the cigarette substitute is equivalent to “someone spitting in your face” | Herald, UK

CLeaR local tobacco control assessment

[Updated with niche tobacco deep dive self-assessment tool and updated guidance.] Guidance for local authorities, public health bodies and the NHS on using ‘deep dive’ self-assessment tools to improve their tobacco control work | PHE, UK

Alcohol-related Brain Damage - audio

With hospital admissions for ARBD on the rise in Wales, Oliver Hides examines what's being done to tackle a condition that - left undetected and untreated - can be fatal | BBC Radio Wales, UK

Alcohol Harm — [Ian Paisley in the Chair]

I beg to move, That this House has considered tackling alcohol harm | They work for you, UK

What’s driving so many kids to ‘go country’?

The county lines phenomenon is the manifestation of widespread Government neglect | Unherd, UK

Free webinar: medical cannabis and the treatment of pain

Tue, Mar 24, 2020 7pm - 8pm. Presenter: Dr Sunil Arora, Consultant in Pain and Anaesthetics. Chair: Dr Steve Brinksman, SMMGP Clinical Director. This webinar will include: the use of medical cannabis in the treatment of pain
Lucy Stafford - a patient with lived experience | SMMGP, UK

Big cannabis in the UK: is industry support for wider patient access motivated by promises of recreational market worth billions?

The BMJ has uncovered links between companies, campaign groups, and individuals lobbying for wider patient access to cannabis for medical use and a parallel campaign to create a lucrative recreational market for the drug in the UK | BMJ, UK

Mum scared of running out of cannabis oil for son

A mother whose seven-year-old son has been using imported cannabis oil for his epilepsy said she is terrified for his life if she runs out | BBC, UK


International news

'The legal stuff is garbage': why Canada's cannabis black market keeps thriving

North America’s biggest companies have seen their market values lose billions, prompting comparisons to dotcom bust | Guardian, UK

'You are beautiful': the Kenyan beauty parlour serving female heroin users

Pedicures, manicures and blow-drys bring addicts through the door to help them access rehabilitation | Guardian, UK

Irish people drinking less alcohol, figures show

Irish people are now drinking less alcohol than in previous years, according to new provisional figures from Revenue | Irish Examiner, Ireland

FDA requires new health warnings for cigarette packages and advertisements

New warnings with color images promote greater public understanding of negative health consequences of smoking | FDA, USA

E-cigarette use rises while new data points to heart health risks

Vaping is rising fastest among women, middle-aged adults and former smokers | EurekAlert, USA

Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) Guidance (PDF)

SAMHSA recognizes the evolving issues surrounding COVID-19 and the emerging needs OTPs continue to face | SAMHSA, USA

Opioid withdrawal increases health risks for people who inject drugs

Experiencing the symptoms of opioid withdrawal increases the odds that a person who injects drugs will share needles or have a non-fatal overdose, according to new USC study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence | Medical Xpress, USA

So Alcoholics Anonymous Is “Proven” to Work After All? Not So Fast 

Alcoholics Anonymous and its 12 Steps, with their prescription of abstinence, have dominated America’s response to addiction for a half-century or more. Yet despite the urges of advocates and the lucrative, 12-step-based rehab industry to enshrine this status, reliable studies demonstrating AA’s effectiveness were not forthcoming | Filter Magazine, USA

Researcher receives $3.9 million grant to study how cannabis chemicals can help with pain

Ziva Cooper, research director of the UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative, has been awarded a $3.9 million grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health at the NIH to study whether cannabis chemicals called terpenes can reduce the amount of opioid medication a person needs to reduce pain | EurekAlert, USA


Blogs, comment and opinion

Treatment and recovery services – and COVID-19

Updated. Collective Voice will be doing everything it can over the coming weeks and months to support the sector at this challenging time | Collective Voice blog, UK

Coronavirus thrives on the inequality the government has ignored – this public health grant is too little, too late

Services have already suffered a decade of savage cuts. The treasury’s meagre increase to the budget will be a sticking plaster at best, leaving the most vulnerable to suffer | Independent voices, UK