Daily news - 5th October 2020

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UK news

ASSIST-Lite screening tool: how to use

Guidance for health and social care professionals on using the ASSIST-Lite tool to identify substance use and provide appropriate intervention | PHE, UK

Investigating the need for alcohol harm reduction and managed alcohol programs for people experiencing homelessness and alcohol use disorders in Scotland

[Open access] Managed alcohol programs (MAP) are a harm reduction approach for those experiencing alcohol use disorders (AUD) and homelessness. These programs were developed in Canada and have had positive results; very few exist in the UK and Ireland. The aim of this study was to scope the feasibility and acceptability of implementing MAPs in Scotland | Drug and Alcohol Review, UK

How Much Cocaine Do You Have to Do for Your Nose to Fall Apart?

[DrugWise Director, Harry Shapiro quoted] Plus: experts warn that one popular "harm reduction" technique may be more harmful than helpful | VICE, UK

Dundee's drug problem remains 'a challenge'

The Accounts Commission found improvements had been made in some areas but the city still has Scotland's highest rate of drug deaths | BBC, UK

Northumbria Police drugs warning after four deaths

Four people died in suspected drugs-related incidents over the weekend, sparking an urgent warning about the dangers of illegal substances | BBC, UK

Safe Consumption Glasgow

[New website] Safe Consumption Sites also known as Overdose Prevention Sites or Drug Consumption Rooms are now in operation around the world. The data shows that not one single death from overdose has been recorded with tens of thousands of overdoses being reversed. Benefits include, reduced hospital admissions, less anti social behaviours, more engagement with treatment, less BBV transmission and less publicly discarded equipment | Safe Consumption Glasgow, UK

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what strategy his Department has to tackle Foetal Alcohol Syndrome; and what steps his Department is taking to make pregnant mothers aware of the risks to their unborn child of the consumption of alcohol | They work for you, UK

Alcohol Duty Review: call for evidence

This call for evidence seeks views on how well the alcohol duty system currently works and how it could be reformed | HM Treasury, UK

Covid rules: What's the evidence for 10pm pub closing time?

The government's 10pm mandatory closing time for pubs, bars and restaurants in England has come under scrutiny, following videos posted on social media of crowds gathering outside venues in some cities after closing time | BBC, UK

Covid pub rules: How NI alcohol laws differ from the rest of the UK

The decision by the Northern Ireland Executive to require pubs, restaurants and hotels to stop serving alcohol at 23:00 puts NI out of step with the rest of the UK | BBC, UK

Will synthetic alcohol mean the end of hangovers? 

Like many of us, I’ve been drinking more during the pandemic. Whether it’s an extra beer with dinner or that glass of wine that turns into a bottle, drinking helps me wind down and switch off from the news | WHYY, UK

Have your say on the services provided by Drug and Alcohol Findings

If you can spare a few minutes, please complete this survey for Drug and Alcohol Findings – sharing what they are doing well and what they could do better | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

The stigma of substance use, with Liviu Alexandrescu and James Morris - webinar

Tue, 15 December 2020. 13:00 – 14:30 GMT. This webinar will explore stigma, marginality, labelling and ‘othering’ as barriers to change for people who use substances | SUAB, UK

Prof Jim McVeigh Inaugural Lecture: “But they don’t look like drug users…” - event

Mon, November 9, 2020. 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM GMT. This inaugural professorial lecture will include a summary of some of the research that McVeigh has contributed to in relation to the populations of AAS users and the associated potential harms. These findings will be discussed in the context of what this means for future research, policy development and service provision for this population of drug users | Research In Arts And Humanities At Manchester Met, UK

PhD: addicted to research - podcast

‘PhD: addicted to research’ is a podcast created by SSA-funded PhD students that will help anyone doing a PhD or anyone thinking about doing a PhD. Episode 1: Stress and well-being - Merve, Chloe and Jo-Anne will discuss how to manage stress throughout a PhD, about maintaining a work-life balance and about how to cope with working from home during lock-down | SSA, UK

Reefer Madness with Wayne Hall - podcast

Suzi Gage talkes to Wayne Hall about his analysis of the film Reefer Madness for the Addiction Classics series | Addiction, UK

Exploring smokers' experiences of using e-cigarettes - survey

We are currently recruiting for a new study funded by Public Health England. We require current smokers to switch from smoking cigarettes to using an e-cigarette (provided by us) for one week. You will be asked to complete some online surveys before, during, and after the vaping week. We will also ask you some follow-up questions one week later | University of Bristol, UK

Has the pandemic changed your relationship with alcohol or drugs?

Following on from her Modern Masculinity series, Iman Amrani wants to open up a conversation about men’s mental health and would like to hear from men about how their habits have changed around drugs and alcohol consumption during coronavirus | Guardian, UK

New UK app records police encounters and saves footage in cloud

Legal Lifelines app intended to provide alternative evidence to police bodycam footage | Guardian, UK

'Huge' Sunderland cannabis farm worth £500k dismantled

The farm of 600 plants split across two floors was discovered in an empty building in Sunderland on Thursday | BBC, UK

Drugs strapped to lorry roof fall off on M1 in Belfast

Drugs with an estimated street value of £1m have been recovered following an incident on the M1 in which a lorry shed its load | BBC, UK


International news

Coronavirus: Paris to shut bars and raise alert to maximum

Paris will shut all bars completely from Tuesday as the French government raises the city's coronavirus alert to maximum following a sustained period of high infection rates | BBC, UK

Young people in drug policy advocacy part 1: Stop “protecting” young people from drugs and start listening to them

Students for Sensible Drug Policy and Youth RISE are two international organizations focused on engaging young people in harm reduction and drug policy reform. This mini-series focuses on 6 young activists who are working around the world to fight for drug policy reform and to protect human rights | IDPC, UK

Canopy Growth, Acreage plan U.S. launch of cannabis-infused beverages in 2021

Canadian pot firm Canopy Growth Corp WEED.TOCGC.N and Acreage Holdings Inc ACRGau.CD plan to launch the former's cannabis-infused beverages in the United States next summer, the companies said on Thursday | Reuters, UK

'I was looking at death': how the world's most tattooed man, Lucky Diamond Rich, came back from the brink

The Australian found fame as a highly decorated performer but slipped into drug addiction and homelessness before turning his life around | Guardian, UK

Bollywood megastar admits drug problem in India's film industry amid growing narcotics probe 

[Limited number of free articles per week] Investigation of Bollywood star's death expands into major drugs probe | Telegraph, UK

Lack of detection equipment hampering drug-driving battle

Gardaí are unable to crack down on motorists driving while under the influence of cocaine and other drugs due to a lack of breathalyzer equipment, it has emerged | Irish Examiner, Ireland

Massive drug profits fuelling violence in communities

The massive money being made from the drugs trade is the “main driver” of the violence and intimidation plaguing affected communities, it has been warned | Irish Examiner, Ireland

Medical cannabis weeded out from short-term EU policy agenda

There is no European plan to address in the short-term the regulatory barriers for the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, the Council presidency of the EU and the European Commission have confirmed to EURACTIV | EURACTIV, Belgium

Significant decline in prescription opioid abuse seen among Americans at last

Almost 20 years into the opioid epidemic, there finally is evidence of significant and continual decreases in the abuse of these risky pain medications, according to an analysis of national data being presented at the ANESTHESIOLOGY 2020 annual meeting | Medical Xpress, USA

New Products, Programs in Smoking Cessation Sector Offer Hope, Support to Those Desperate to Quit

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the world today. Globally, 7 million people die every year from tobacco use, and the number is projected to increase to 8 million if the pattern of smoking doesn't change | Cision PR Newswire, USA

Parents less aware when their kids vape than when they smoke

UCSF study says strict household rules are best way to prevent tobacco use | EurekAlert, USA

Tobacco regulatory science researcher earns $1.3 million grant to study role of menthol

In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration banned numerous cigarette flavors, from chocolate to cherry to cinnamon, in an effort to decrease their attractiveness to young people. But it did not ban menthol flavoring. Now, the FDA is considering whether to ban the minty flavor, and a researcher at Stephenson Cancer Center at OU Medicine is conducting a study that will help inform that decision | EurekAlert, USA

When psychotropic medications are used as recreational drugs

Recreational, abused drugs (e.g., cannabinoids; cocaine; and MDMA/ecstasy) appear to increase dopaminergic signaling in the mesolimbic reward pathway which, in turn, reinforces the subjective rewarding, and euphoric effects of such molecules | Medical Xpress, USA

Trump said solving the opioid crisis was a top priority. His drug office’s track record suggests otherwise

President Trump on Thursday expressed his deep support for Americans facing drug addiction in a proclamation of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and renewed his administration’s “unyielding commitment to breaking the grip of alcohol and drug addiction.” | Washington Post, USA

Colorado Governor Pardons Thousands of People With Marijuana Convictions

Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) took executive action on October 1 to pardon nearly 3,000 people with low-level marijuana convictions. Though promising, his action is limited to state-level convictions for possession of no more than one ounce of cannabis, between the years 1978 and 2012 | Filter Magazine, USA

The Acute Effects of the Atypical Dissociative Hallucinogen Salvinorin A on Functional Connectivity in the Human Brain

This placebo-controlled, within-subject study used functional magnetic resonance imaging for the first time to explore the effects of inhaled Salvinorin A on strength, variability, and entropy of functional connectivity | Nature, USA

Colombian Organized Crime Observatory

[New website] Organized crime (OC) constitutes one of the greatest threats to security in Latin America. This has generated a great impact in terms of violence, corruption and institutional weakening. The Colombian Organized Crime Observatory (OCCO) is dedicated to the analysis of the different facets of OC from a multidisciplinary and applied approach | OCCO, Colombia

Effectiveness of a video-based smoking cessation intervention focusing on maternal and child health in promoting quitting among expectant fathers in China: A randomized controlled trial

Secondhand smoke can cause adverse pregnancy outcomes, yet there is a lack of effective smoking cessation interventions targeted at expectant fathers. We examined the effectiveness of a video-based smoking cessation intervention focusing on maternal and child health in promoting quitting among expectant fathers | PLOS One, China

Non-alcoholic beverage marketplace launches

Two Sydney businessmen have launched a non-alcoholic marketplace, Craftzero, as the brewing industry hones in on health and wellness trends | Brews News, Australia

Prescribing medicinal cannabis

The Australian Federal Government legalised access to medicinal cannabis in 2016. More than 100 different cannabis products are now available to prescribe. Most are oral preparations (oils) or capsules containing delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabidiol. Dried-flower products are also available | NPS, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

Harry’s Blog 105: Sheer Heart Attack

Fans of the rock band Queen will instantly recognise this blog title as the title of their 1974 album. Fear not though; what follows is not an attempt to link rock ‘n’ roll with the development of tobacco harm reduction. Instead it is a rather neat (or clumsy, depending on your view) way of exposing yet another increasingly tiresome example of how international scientific and medical organisations put the lives of millions of smokers at risk, by continuing to peddle fabrications about the ‘dangers’ of safer nicotine products | NSP blog, UK

Misinformation about illicit drugs is spreading on social media – and the consequences could be dangerous

We’re all familiar with the term “fake news” and have probably witnessed the speed at which these stories can circulate on social media. Fake news stories can be about almost any topic, but increasingly misinformation about illicit drugs is becoming common. But the consequences of such false information can be dangerous – even deadly | Conversation, UK and USA

Covid-19 is killing Britain’s nightlife, so why isn’t the government doing more to save it?

Make no mistake this government is attending to the night-time economy, but not in a way that anyone involved wants | Independent voices, UK

Five Reasons Why Boris Johnson Should Legalise Cannabis Now

“The evidence for the reform of our laws against cannabis is overwhelming and the Covid crisis has made it even more urgent to grasp this nettle.” Popularity * Mental Health * Tax Revenue * Jobs * Crime and Violence | Clear, UK

Ayahuasca-induced increases in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) associated with reduced depression

Nobrega de Almeida et al (June, 2019) published an article in Frontiers in Psychology on a physiological analysis of the clinical trial by Palhano-Fontes et al (2018) which administered ayahuasca (the Amerindian entheogenic decoction meaning ‘vine of souls’) to patients with major depression | Mental Elf, UK

The 'new normal' for children affected by their parent's drinking: what's happening and how can we help?

Piers Henriques from charity Nacoa asks what's happening to the hundreds of thousands of UK children living with a heavy-drinking parent during COVID-19, and how they can get the support they need and deserve | Alcohol Change UK blog, UK