Daily news - 23rd October 2020

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UK news

Alcohol-specific hospital admissions

Directly age and sex standardised admission rate for alcohol-specific conditions per 100,000 registered patients, 95% confidence intervals | NHS Digital, UK

Emergency alcohol-specific readmission to any hospital within 30 days of discharge following an alcohol-specific admission

Indirectly age and sex standardised ratio of emergency readmissions with a primary diagnosis or an external cause code of an alcohol-specific condition within 30 days of a previous discharge following an alcohol-specific admission, with 95% confidence intervals | NHS Digital, UK

Trends in the psychosocial characteristics of 11–15‐year‐olds who still drink, smoke, take drugs and engage in poly‐substance use in England

[Open access] Youth substance use is declining in many high‐income countries. As adolescent substance use becomes less common, it may concentrate in higher‐risk groups. This paper aims to examine how the psychosocial characteristics of young substance users in England have changed over time | Drug and Alcohol Review, UK

MPs and trade body voice health concerns after study shows first decline in vaping

MPs and an industry association have voiced concerns about the first decline in vaping and its possible impact on public health | Talking Retail, UK

A Raw Deal: Drug dealing discussed with lived-experience

This paper draws from material recorded in over eight hours of interviews over two days, all with former drug-dealers in England. All participants had been previously involved in selling illicit drugs in the UK and discussed freely their experiences | Centre for Social Justice, UK [See also blog item below]

Women's hour - deaths from cocaine

[Listen from 21.55]. Female deaths due to cocaine have risen by 26.5% in 2019, according to the ONS. Why is the number of women dying from cocaine use increasing so rapidly? | BBC, UK

Alcohol in pregnancy - podcast

In the first episode of a new little run, Suzi speaks to epidemiologists Dr Kate Fleming and Dr Luisa Zuccolo about what we know about the evidence around the risks of drinking alcohol during pregnancy. How do they compare to other things women are advised against doing, like smoking, or eating soft cheese? Why does alcohol seem to be so divisive an issue in pregnancy? We also talk about plans to keep better records about alcohol use in pregnancy, and how this got somewhat misreported in the media in recent weeks | Say why to drugs, UK

Prisons: Alcoholic Drinks and Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what his most recent estimate is of the number of (a) drug and (b) alcohol-dependent prisoners in the prison population in England and Wales | They work for you, UK

Pub and restaurant restrictions extended by a week

A ban on indoor home visits and travel guidance urging people to stay in their health board area will also remain in place until at least November 2, when a new tiered system of lockdown rules begins | STV, UK

Crackdown on UK gambling ads expected to ban use of celebrities

Proposed rules aim to curb advertising targeting under-18s | Guardian, UK

Andy's story

It started how it does for so many: I was a social drinker. Like a lot of people, I started drinking in my mid-late teens, but it started to escalate in my early twenties... | More Than My Past, UK

Pub desks: Sick of home working? I made the pub my office for a day

Some pub-goers have queried whether "pub desks" offer a safe way of working, but industry leaders argue more coronavirus transmissions take place in educational settings and care homes than in pubs and restaurants | BBC, UK

Lager laager: When the on-trade switches off

With the current focus on the hospitality trade, Tennent's sheds some light on what's been going on in Scotland's pub trade | BBC, UK

Good things come to those who wait? Guinness goes non-alcoholic

[Limited number of free articles] The non-alcoholic version is launched in the UK from next Monday in off-licences and supermarkets | Telegraph, UK

Covid: Preston pub selling meals for a penny to meet rules

Andy Macdonald, owner of the Ships and Giggles in Preston, Lancashire, said he made the gesture in "desperate times" | BBC, UK

Milton Keynes drug turf murderer Lee Sopp jailed for life

A drug dealer who wore a Crusader-style chainmail vest to protect himself has been jailed for life for the murder of a rival | BBC, UK


International news

Trump grants clemency to five people convicted of drug and money laundering crimes

President Donald Trump has granted pardons to 27 people and clemency to 16 others since taking office | Independent, UK

What the US arrest of former Defense Minister tells about drug traffickers and the military in Mexico

Mexico’s lack of commitment to dismantling the cartels and their criminal enterprises is exposed by the US arrest of a top Mexican army officer: General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda | Open Democracy, UK

Fifteen years of heroin-assisted treatment in a Swiss prison—a retrospective cohort study

[Open access] Little has been published on the effectiveness or outcomes of heroin-assisted treatment (HAT), a treatment option for severely dependent OUI delivered in a prison setting. The aim of this study was therefore to evaluate such treatment since its implementation | Harm Reduction Journal, UK

Corruption and Gender along drug trafficking routes - webinar

Wed, October 28, 2020. 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM GMT This webinar will analyze and discuss the intersection and correlation between corruption and a lack of gender perspective, aiming to identify key hot spots, along with the causes and effects of corruption permeating networks of practitioners | CRIM JUST, UK

Manualised mindfulness-based programs for substance use disorders to enhance cue-reactivity — evidence summary

A new BPP update highlights structured mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) beneficial effects on craving management, as well as promising effects on psychiatric outcomes, including depression and anxiety symptoms | EMCDDA, Portugal

Psychostimulants to reduce stimulant use — evidence summary

In our latest Best Practice Portal update we highlight a very recent meta-analysis that systematically reviewed trials testing selected PPs as treatment for patients with cocaine or amphetamine-type substance use disorder (PSUD). The pooled analysis found that prescription psychostimulants, particularly prescription amphetamines given in higher doses, have a clinically significant effect to promote abstinence in the treatment of individuals with PSUD, specifically the population with cocaine use disorder | EMCDDA, Portugal

Street Lawyering Program in Athens – Interview with Emmanouela Soldatou

HumanRights360, a human rights NGO, in partnership with STEPS, a harm reduction NGO, started a new program to provide legal help to people who live on streets in Athens. We interviewed Emmanouela Soldatou, the research and advocacy coordinator of STEPS about this new initiative | Drug Reporter, Hungary

Opioid use disorder? Electronic health records help pinpoint probable patients

Opioid use disorder affects about 2 million Americans each year and is the No. 1 cause of accidental death. Between 50 to 90 percent of individuals with this disorder were exposed to a prescription opioid first. Opioid use disorder is likely underdiagnosed within the healthcare system setting, which may be due in part to the reticence of practitioners who lack the specialized training in addiction medicine | EurekAlert, USA

Youth engagement and tobacco control: Empowering young people to advocate for policy change

Youth empowerment is an effective public health strategy that can result in improved health and educational outcomes. Empowered youth are actively engaged in decision-making processes and equipped with the skills and resources to make positive improvements on their own lives and within their communities | BASIS, USA

The Unfolding Tragedy of India’s Vape Prohibition

Born and raised in Mumbai, Aditi Sharma now lives in Pune, a sprawling city in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, and works long, odd hours at a popular English-language daily newspaper. After watching her husband, another longtime smoker, use an open-system vape to get himself off combustible cigarettes, she decided to give it a go, too | Filter Magazine, USA

Police in Paraguay Seize Biggest Cocaine Stash Ever

The haul narrowly eclipses the nation's previous national record but is a way from some of Latin America’s biggest cocaine seizures, including 23 tons in Mexico in 2007 and 12 tons in Colombia in 2017 | VICE, USA

B.C. needs more support for drug overdose survivors, caregivers: advocate

The co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm says more needs to be done to support survivors of drug overdoses who need care | City News, Canada

Nelson Fentanyl Task Force funds $15k toward providing new prescription options

The money supports an outreach worker who helps people access pharmaceutical opioids and stimulants | Nelson Star, Canada

Vancouver council approves drug injection site for downtown

Vancouver city council has approved a supervised drug injection site downtown and further directed staff to work with health providers and police to find other locations for sites across the city where data shows the greatest risk of overdoses | BIV, Canada

In Photos: Life in the Downtown Eastside During COVID-19

Sarah Blyth captures her days at the Overdose Prevention Society during two crises: soaring overdoses and the pandemic | The Tyee, Canada


Blogs, comment and opinion

A plan for legalising cocaine, MDMA and amphetamines

"The debate on drugs can often be heated and polarising; yet, on one point at least, there is a growing consensus: the 'war on drugs' has failed." So writes Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand, in the foreword to Transform's new book - 'How to Regulate Stimulants: A Practical Guide'. | Politics.co.uk, UK

Frank Young: What drug dealers really think about legalising drugs

Drugs legalisation is a cockroach policy that is almost impossible to kill. Even now, as the country tries to contain a pandemic, there are calls in the press from Left and Right to legalise cannabis: rather like the arguments over grammar schools, it is a debate that seemingly will never die | Conservative Home blog, UK

Toby Williams: Lockdown has presented huge challenges for the children of alcoholics. Here’s how we can help

In many ways, we are coming out of the pandemic as even more of a compassionate, big-hearted, and socially conscious country. This puts us in the right position to deal with some of the pressing social problems facing our country – especially those which have been made more acute by the lockdown | Conservative Home blog, UK

The alarming – and completely pointless – rise of Covid booze bans

[Limited number of free articles]At best, blindly cracking down on alcohol is completely pointless. At worst, it could actually be exacerbating the Covid problem | Telegraph opinion, UK

Twenty reasons to be sceptical about rules lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes - and what to do instead

To mark the annual US Food Drug and Law Institute Tobacco and Nicotine Products Regulation and Policy Conference (21-23 Oct), where FDA traditionally gives an update on its plans for nicotine regulation, I thought it worth noting that the centrepiece of its comprehensive strategy for nicotine seems to have disappeared | Clive Bates, UK

Couldn’t finish 'Go Sober for October' – what does it mean?

If you are taking part in 'Go Sober for October', but have found that you haven’t been able to stop drinking or manage your urges as you thought you would, we have put together advice and information to help you as you to try to address your relationship with alcohol | Manor Clinic blog, UK

Learning Points: Teens' alcohol attitudes are deadly serious

Last week I wrote about the need for mental health promotion to be designed and delivered in a way that has a positive impact on people’s lives | Irish Examiner, Ireland

Redoubling Efforts to Help Americans Quit Smoking — Federal Initiatives to Tackle the Country’s Longest-Running Epidemic

The 2020 U.S. Surgeon General’s report on smoking cessation is the first such report to focus on this topic since 1990. Its release came as the Department of Health and Human Services was investigating an outbreak of deadly lung injuries linked to the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products | NEJM Perspective, USA

Drug Reform in a Biden Administration?

In August, the DNC Convention depicted Joe Biden as “Uncle Joe,” an empathetic figure who faced adversity, experienced personal tragedy and is generally kind of a goofball, an elderly gentleman telling rambling stories about how movie popcorn tasted better in the 1950s | Points blog, USA