Daily news - 26th May 2020

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Coronavirus frequently updated resources

COVID-19 and addiction: webinars, podcasts and online discussions | SSA

Treatment and recovery services – and COVID-19 |Collective Voice

COVID-19 Information Hub | Scottish Drugs Forum

COVID-19 and smoking: resources, research and news | BMJ

Coronavirus: information and advice hub - alcohol | Alcohol Change UK

COVID-19 resources page for people who use drugs (PWUD) and drug service providers | EMCDDA


UK news

Exclusive: Fears over footballers mixing sleeping pills with alcohol to get legal high

[Free registration maybe required.] [Harry Shapiro of DrugWise quoted.] The drugs are not on Wada's banned list and players are using them recreationally | Telegraph, UK

Free Annual Conference 2020: What does good look like during and after COVID-19?

Now, more than ever, NHS and voluntary sector providers, service users, commissioners, volunteers and other stakeholders need the opportunity to come together, collaborate, discuss, inspire and learn from each other. NHS SMPA is determined to provide a platform for this to happen. We are therefore pleased to announce that our 2020 Annual Conference will now be delivered online and for free on the 9th September | NHS Substance Misuse Provider Alliance, UK

MUP two year anniversary; IAS briefing & impact of families MESAS report

The 1st of the month marked two years since the introduction of Scotland's Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP). The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) released a briefing Minimum Unit Pricing in Scotland: What we know so far about its effects on consumption and health harms [pdf]. The executive summary states "media reports have been mixed, with some claiming the policy has been a success and others claiming it has been a failure. This briefing attempts to summarise this evidence | IAS, UK

Alcohol, smoking, and other substance use in the perinatal period

Many women use substances during pregnancy. For example, the global prevalence of alcohol consumption during pregnancy is 9.8%. Moreover, 10.4% of pregnant women in England were known to be smoking tobacco at the time of deliver | BMJ, UK

County Lines after COVID - a new threat?

Since the COVID-19 lockdown began, the received wisdom reported in the media has been that the threat from county lines operated by organised crime groups (OCGs) and gangs would reduce | Crest Advisory, UK

Recreational Drugs’ European Network: an ICT prevention service addressing the use of novel compounds in vulnerable individuals - [Khat and COVID - 19 Survey]

The purpose of this particular study is to investigate the impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic and responses to it are having on the cultivation, supply and use of the shrub Catha edulis (khat, qat, Tschat) from the producers', suppliers', and consumers’ perspectives | Psychopharmacology, Drug Misuse & Novel Psychoactive Substances Research Unit, University of Hertfordshire, UK

Government must establish £100m housing support fund or risk losing ‘golden opportunity to end rough sleeping’

Successful efforts to tackle rough sleeping during the Covid-19 pandemic risk being squandered if the Government fails to implement and fund a comprehensive exit strategy, say the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee in it's interim report on protecting rough sleepers and renters | UK Parliament, UK

In pictures: Glasgow’s drugs crisis in the time of coronavirus

“The reality is that the HIV outbreak and drug-related deaths haven’t gone away just because we have declared a coronavirus pandemic in Scotland,” says Jennifer Goff | The Ferret, UK

Coronavirus: Wetherspoon pubs set out post-lockdown plans

The JD Wetherspoon pub chain has outlined plans for reopening hundreds of pubs once lockdown restrictions are eased. Staff will be provided with face masks and protective eyewear and the chain will run a reduced food menu | BBC, UK

Licensing Alterations

Many local food and drink businesses are diversifying to meet the challenges that are presented by Covid-19. Some such businesses want to expand to outdoor spaces to meet social distancing requirements when it is safe for them to do so, and many continue to offer home deliveries of food and alcohol, for which they require licences | They work for you, UK

Tributes paid to Aids and drug abuse campaigner Heather Black

Heather Black was a social worker who co-founded the Support Help and Advice for Drug Addiction (SHADA) community group, working tirelessly to campaign for better support for heroin users and reduce the spread of Aids caused by a lack of clean needles in the city | Edinburgh Evening News, UK

James Argent opens up about cocaine addiction

‘I wanted to be alone but it triggered horrific paranoia and psychosis’, says singer | Independent, UK

Millions of pounds and tonnes of drugs seized during lockdown

The National Crime Agency and law enforcement partners have seized 25 tonnes of class A drugs and at least £15 million in cash during the Covid-19 lockdown | NCA, UK

Coronavirus: Cocaine and money seized during vehicle checks

Senior police officers say it has been easier to catch criminals because there are fewer motorists on the roads | BBC, UK

Cannabis plants 'worth more than £1m' seized in Oldham

Greater Manchester Police raided a property on Ripponden Road at 8:20 BST and found a "vast cultivation facility comprising more than 1,500 plants" across four floors, a spokesman said | BBC, UK

Cannabis plants 'worth more than £825k' seized at old medical centre

An "extremely large grow" of cannabis plants - believed to be worth more than £825,000 - has been seized after a raid at a disused medical centre | BBC, UK

Boys arrested on drugs charges after girl dies in Scarborough

Two girls, aged 13 and 14, were taken to hospital on Wednesday afternoon after they fell ill at an address in Scarborough, police said | BBC, UK


International news

Trans-European COVID-19 and drug use survey Phase 1: lockdown

We would like to find out a little bit about how coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting drug use. Below is a short, anonymous survey with mostly tick box questions which will take about 10 minutes to complete | GT Research, UK

Undoing the ‘double bind’ of homelessness and substance use problems

Homelessness is a significant obstacle to regular participation in methadone maintenance treatment, particularly among people leaving prison. This study in a major US city examines whether a ‘housing first’ programme could improve outcomes among this cohort | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Virginia decriminalises possession of cannabis

Virginia is now 27th state to legalise marijuana | Independent, UK

Coronavirus in South Africa: Smokers fume at cigarette ban

The illicit trade in cigarettes in South Africa is now in full swing after the sale of tobacco was banned at the end of March as part of strict measures imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus, as the BBC's Pumza Fihlani reports | BBC, UK

Growing inequalities in Australians’ life expectancy highlights city-country divide

Data shows premature deaths drastically higher in lowest socioeconomic areas, with smoking, obesity and lack of essential services a driving factor | Guardian, UK

Covid restrictions make the argument not to bring in minimum alcohol pricing 'even more tenuous'

Health Minister Simon Harris has said the government’s preference is to bring the measure in at the same time as Northern Ireland | Journal, Ireland

World No Tobacco Day - 31st May 2020

The global campaign will debunk myths and expose devious tactics employed by these industries. It will provide young people with the knowledge required to easily detect industry manipulation and equip them with the tools to rebuff such tactics, thereby empowering young people to stand up against them | WHO, Switzerland

New studies reveal extent and risks of laughing gas & stimulant abuse among young people

The extent and risks associated with recreational abuse of laughing gas and psychostimulants by young people have today been revealed in two studies reported at the European Academy of Neurology Virtual Congress | EurekAlert, USA

Problems with alcohol? 29 gene variants may explain why

A genome-wide analysis of more than 435,000 people has identified 29 genetic variants linked to problematic drinking, researchers at Yale University School of Medicine and colleagues report May 25 in the journal Nature Neuroscience | Yale News, USA

[May require free registration] The cure-all debate over the cannabis compound has distracted from the serious — and seriously odd — back story of how cannabidiol conquered the country | NYTimes, USA

Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis: Edible Cannabis Products, Cannabis Extracts and Cannabis Topicals

Reviews research about edible cannabis products, cannabis extracts and cannabis topicals. Findings of the report include the health and safety risks these types of cannabis products have that are different from the risks associated with dried cannabis. It also addresses the risks of over consumption, methods of use, unintentional ingestion — especially by children — and the psychoactive effects of these types of products | CCSA, Canada

Why COVID-19 could make the overdose epidemic worse

When Alberta's chief medical officer, Deena Hinshaw, announced special exemptions to COVID-19 regulations for group therapy in residential addiction treatment centres, it was exactly what University of Alberta addictions expert Cameron Wild was hoping to hear | Medical Xpress, Canada

Trends in awareness, uptake and deployment of naloxone among a sample of people who inject drugs in Australia

Opioid overdose is a major public health issue associated with substantial morbidity and mortality in Australia. Indeed, nearly half the IDRS sample in 2019 reported having experienced an opioid overdose | NDARC, Australia

Who seeks pharmacotherapy for methamphetamine use in Australia?

This webinar describes participants in the N-ICE trial, a recently completed pharmacotherapy trial for methamphetamine dependence. The N-ICE trial is a randomised controlled trial of N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) for methamphetamine (“ice”) dependence | NDARC, Australia

Drug and Alcohol Research Connections - May 2020

Latest research, news and opinion | NDARC, NDRI and NCETA, Australia

Some drinking more, but alcohol sales down

Fears of a booze-fuelled lockdown are fading as new figures show sales of alcohol have plummeted by volume as well as value | SMH, Australia

How Worried You Should Be About Your Lockdown Smoking Habit

Whether you’re stress smoking like an Olsen twin or using quarantine to quit, coronavirus has drastically altered people’s smoking habits | VICE, Australia

Coronavirus: Dry July goes 'dry-ish' in a nod to Covid-19 stress

The Dry July campaign has been made "dryish" with the realisation an alcohol-free month may be too much for Kiwis right now | Stuff.co.nz, New Zealand

Cannabis crop could contribute $490m a year to government coffers

Work by the NZ Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) shows a legal cannabis industry could raise about $490 million a year in tax, including GST | NZ Herald, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

Prof David Best the National Recovery Champion Ed Day and Recovery Leaders conversation - video

A discussion about recovery. Guests include Ed Day the National Recovery Champion, Prof David Best, Stu Green Services Manager Aspire, Tim Sampey CEO Build on Belief, Stephen Youdell Director Double Impact Services and Dave Higham Founder and CEO The Well Communities | David Higham, UK

David's story

One of the things I was told when I went into rehab for my alcohol and drug addiction was that I had a disease which affected everyone in society – “from dukes to dustmen”. I am hardly a duke, but I did have a privileged upbringing that few have the chance to experience | More than my past, UK

County Lines After COVID – A New Threat?

Crest Advisory challenges the assumption that the threat from county lines drug dealing has reduced during lockdown | Russell Webster, UK

Opinion: Let's not forget about the epidemic of overdose deaths

Your article “On average, a huge leap in mortality,” May 13, about the increase in mortality from COVID-19 neglects to mention the other epidemic Canadians are facing, the crisis in overdose deaths | Edmonton Journal, Canada



And finally...

Puff at the top! Everest pioneers packed 15,000 CIGARETTES as they scaled world's highest peak despite lack of oxygen in the 'death zone'

Helmets, harnesses and crampons are obvious choices for mountaineers to pack when scaling the highest peaks around the globe - but in the heady days of the brave pionners attempting such feats for the first time, so too did they pack cigarattes in their thousands | Mail Online, UK