Daily news - 19th November 2020

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UK news

More than four million over 50s are binge drinking at least once a week during lockdown

More than one in two (51.2%) over 50s are drinking at a level that could cause health problems now or in the future, with nearly one in four (23.7%) classed as high risk or possibly dependent | We Are With You, UK

Over 50s Alcohol Helpline

Our advisors are on hand to offer free, confidential advice about alcohol and ageing | We Are With You, UK

Binge drinking among over-50s rising amid pandemic, says UK charity

Survey suggests nearly one in four may be at high risk or possibly dependent on alcohol | Guardian, UK

Campaign launched to ban all alcohol advertising in Scotland

In its manifesto ahead of the vote in May, Scottish Health Action on Alcohol Problems (SHAAP) is pushing for parties to support four “focus areas” aimed at reducing alcohol-related harms | Glasgow Times, UK

Work to bring down alcohol-related hospital admissions 'not good enough', warns charity, after 36,000 in a year

There has been no significant decrease in the rate of people being admitted to hospital because of alcohol, a leading charity has warned | Scotsman, UK

Misuse of prescription & over-the-counter drugs to obtain illicit highs: how pharmacists can prevent abuse

There have been increasing reports of misuse of a range of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for recreational purposes. The use of psychoactive pharmaceuticals and ‘pharming’ are new, widespread phenomena involving the non-medical use of prescription and OTC drugs, which are recreationally used to achieve psychoactive effects either on their own or in combination with other substances | Pharmaceutical Journal, UK

Exploring substance use in prisons: a case study approach in 5 closed male English prisons

Research involved case study methodology, exploring factors associated with substance use in 5 English prisons | MoJ, UK

Offenders will have minor crimes wiped from records to boost job prospects

[Limited number of free articles per week] Home Office change means minor assaults, thefts or drug possession would not automatically be revealed to employers | Telegraph, UK

Yorkshire Cancer Research: Covid-delayed funding announced

The Yorkshire Cancer Research funding includes a £1m trial to establish whether vaping products can help people with mental illness quit smoking | BBC, UK

Drugs: Death: Question for Cabinet Office

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, what proportion of drug-related deaths registered in 2019 involved combinations of cocaine with (a) opiates, (b) fentanyl and (c) other synthetic opiates | UK Hansard, UK

Forward Trust Social Impact Report

The report showcases the wide range of support that we provided to over 16,500 clients in 2019/20, covering the reach and impact of five main areas of work: drug and alcohol recovery, health and wellbeing, housing, employment and connections with friends and family | Forward Trust, UK

Student dies in halls as man charged with drugs offences

Officers are looking into possibility drug ketamine was factor in death | Independent, UK

Gregg Wallace opens up about his secret alcohol problem

Masterchef star says he would drink seven days a week | Independent, UK

Man jailed for drug smuggling operation from three prisons

A prisoner who ran a two-year-long drug smuggling operation from three Scottish jails by phone and mail has been jailed for five years and three months | BBC, UK


International news

VIDA News Live: Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction Report - video

Wednesday, November 4th, saw the launch of Burning Issues: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) 2020, the latest landmark report series from UK-based public health agency Knowledge Action Change (KAC). The authors of Burning Issues reveal an estimate for the total global number of users of safer nicotine products, showing that there is an urgent need to scale up tobacco harm reduction to realize its full public health potential | VIDA News, UK

Relation between opioid consumption and inclusion of opioids in 137 national essential medicines lists

Five opioids were included in the 20th edition of the WHO’s Model List of Essential Medicines: codeine, fentanyl, loperamide, methadone and morphine | BMJ, UK

Psychiatry trainees’ attitudes, knowledge and training in addiction psychiatry - a European survey 

Although psychoactive substance use disorders are a domain of mental health, addiction psychiatry is only formally recognized as a subspecialty in few European countries, and there is no standardized training curriculum.
Methods. A 76-item questionnaire was developed and disseminated through an online anonymous data-collecting system and hand-to-hand amongst psychiatric trainees in Europe from the 47 European countries of the Council of Europe plus Israel and Belarus | Frontiers in Psychiarty, UK and others

Surprise over US move to drop drug charges against ex-Mexican minister

Decision seen by some as a reward from Donald Trump to his Mexican counterpart for election support | Guardian, UK

From the archives: An American drugs bust in west Africa – podcast

Using undercover agents, the DEA spent four years trying to bring down a cocaine trafficking gang in Liberia. Was the operation a triumph in the global war on drugs or a case of American overreach? | Guardian, UK

WHO/Europe highlights how alcohol undermines sustainable development across the WHO European Region

A new factsheet, “Alcohol consumption and sustainable development”, prepared by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, draws attention to the barriers alcohol consumption presents across the Region to achieving 13 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) | WHO, Denmark

STEPS survey reveals high prevalence of noncommunicable disease risk factors in Ukraine

Over one third of Ukrainians were tobacco smokers in 2019, according to the results of the first nationwide, large-scale STEPwise approach to surveillance (STEPS) survey on the main risk factors for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) in Ukraine. The data also demonstrate a large gender gap: 50.3% of men smoked compared to 16.7% of women | WHO, Denmark


The film ‘Targets’ is a story about the women in Ukraine who are branded as “drug addicts” and who are being destroyed by the state today. These women are targets, and a real war is being waged against them. The film is an attempt to understand why this is happening and what needs to be done to stop these deaths | Drug Reporter, Hungary

Effect of Pod e-Cigarettes vs Cigarettes on Carcinogen Exposure Among African American and Latinx Smokers

This randomized clinical trial found that switching to NSPS e-cigarettes among adult smokers did not increase nicotine exposure and led to short-term reduction in the major pulmonary carcinogen, NNAL, compared with continued smoking | JAMA Network, USA

Can memory manipulation help treat alcohol addiction?

In the United States alone, over 14 million adults suffer from alcohol use disorder. For those that seek treatment, 90% will experience at least one relapse within the first four years | Medical Xpress, USA

UTSA researcher examines drug overdose mortality in the Hispanic community

UTSA researcher Manuel Cano, assistant professor in the Department of Social Work in the UTSA College for Health, Community and Policy is shedding light to understand the topic of drug overdose deaths in the Hispanic community | EurekAlert, USA

Using peer outreach to actively link individuals to treatment with opioid use disorder medications

Medication for opioid use disorders (OUD) can be lifesaving, yet only some people with OUD receive these medications. One reason is that it can be difficult for individuals with OUD to access and remain engaged with medication-based treatments. In this study, researchers investigated the feasibility and initial results of using peer outreach workers to help connect individuals to treatment with OUD medications | Recovery Research Institute, USA

Stakeholder opinions of internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy as a treatment option for alcohol use disorders

Internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy has been found to be effective for treating alcohol use disorder in research trials, but it is not available as part of routine care in Canada | Recovery Research Institute, USA

My Husband Invented Naloxone, My Son Died of Overdose. Oregon Gives Me Hope

On election day, voters in Oregon took a decisive and important step to stemming the tide of overdose deaths and other drug-related harms | Filter Magazine, USA

Saying It Nicer: Why Language Matters For People With Addiction

When Hunter Biden told ABC News reporter, Amy Robach, to “say it nicer to me”, millions of people across the nation who’ve also been “in and out of rehab” must have cheered wildly | Forbes, USA

Drug Policy Alliance Outlines Priorities for the Biden-Harris Administration’s First 100 Days

Today, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) released a list of priorities it is urging the Biden-Harris Administration to prioritize, particularly during its first 100 days in office | DPA, USA

Has plain packaging legislation reduced tobacco consumption in Australia?

Australia passed the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act in 2011. Once the law was implemented in December 2012, tobacco companies were not allowed to brand cigarettes, cigars, and waterpipe tobacco using images, logos, or slogans | BASIS, USA

Farmers in Myanmar Call for Justice

At the start of each planting season, U Min (not his real name) tills the soil to prepare for his new crop of opium poppy. With each strike of his hoe, he thinks about the people he must pay a “tax” to before he can take any profit for his family | Open Society Foundations, USA

National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW) is from November 22 to 28

Change Begins with Me is the theme for this year’s National Addictions Awareness Week (NAAW). We want to present Canadians with ways they can reassess the way they think about substance use disorders and people who use drugs | CCSA, Canada

Mayor Stewart announces plan to decriminalize simple possession of drugs in Vancouver

If approved by the federal government, Vancouver would be the first jurisdiction in Canada to fully embrace a health-focussed approach to substance use | Kennedy Stewart, Canada

Give More Chronic Drinkers Safe Doses of Alcohol, Say Researchers

BC does so for some who are homeless and alcohol dependent. The safe supply is worth expanding, say experts | The Tyee, Canada

Half a million worth of cannabis seized

The Drug and Serious Crime Group has taken down multiple alleged drug trafficking rings seizing almost half a million dollars of cannabis, and illegal weapons | The Age, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

Alcohol and mental health: how can we better support those with co-occurring problems?

In this blog, Dr Laura Goodwin, Senior Lecturer in the Epidemiology of Mental Health and Addiction at the University of Liverpool, explores some of the main questions around alcohol and mental health, with a focus on how we can answer them through ongoing research | Alcohol Change UK blog, UK

If lockdown has tipped you into problem drinking, you're probably not alone

Not everyone is susceptible to alcohol dependence. For those who are, these are going to be challenging weeks | Guardian, UK

Health pays the price when Big Tobacco woos policymakers

Covid-19 reminds us of the scourge of tobacco: smoking or being a former smoker increases the risk of severe illness from the coronavirus | Telegraph comment, UK

Alcohol problems and insurance

The relationship between alcohol and insurance may not seem obvious, but there are good reasons for looking at both subjects in conjunction, solicitor Jonathan Goodliffe explains | IAS Blog, UK

Alcohol and Mental Health: It affects more than just you

The effects of drug and alcohol use combined with mental health in the family go well beyond the direct effects on the person using them | DrinkCoach blog, UK

CBD sales are soaring, but evidence is still slim that the cannabis derivative makes a difference for anxiety or pain

Many people have turned to cannabis and its derivatives as they search for pandemic relief, and one of the most widely available ones is CBD. It is also legal. You can buy oils, tinctures, capsules, gummies, cosmetics and even toilet paper said to contain the molecule | Conversation, USA