Daily news - 3rd March 2021

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UK news

College publishes report on drug-related deaths in Scotland

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (“the College”) has launched a new report on drug-related deaths in Scotland, based on the views of leading experts. The report recognises that Scotland’s drug deaths crisis is complex, but says much more can be done to tackle the problem, including action on harm reduction and on the social determinants of drug abuse | Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, UK

Citizen scientists show placebo effect may explain benefits of microdosing

The psychological benefits linked with taking regular, small doses of psychedelic drugs are likely the result of users’ expectations, a study suggests | Imperial College London, UK

Local tobacco control profiles for England: March 2021 update

An overview of the extent of tobacco use, tobacco related harm and the measures being taken to reduce this harm at a local level in England | PHE, UK

Scottish drug misuse database

This release presents the information available from the Scottish Drug Misuse Database (SDMD) on people presenting for initial assessment at specialist drug treatment services in 2019/20. In 2019/20, initial assessments for specialist drug treatment relating to 10,900 people resident in Scotland were recorded on the Scottish Drug Misuse Database | Public Health Scotland, UK

Alcohol Bulletin

Quarterly statistics from the 4 different alcohol duty regimes administered by HM Revenue and Customs. Update with provisional data from November 2020 to January 2021 | HM Treasury and Customs, UK

Offenders: Rehabilitation

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, when the updated HMPPS Drug and Alcohol Strategy will be published | They work for you, UK

Substantial meals off the table after judges flag ‘discriminatory effects’

The Government has been forced to scrap its ‘substantial meal' rule following a legal challenge by Greater Manchester's night-time economy advisor, Sacha Lord | Morning Advertiser, UK

Covid-19: Pub landlords struggling despite multiple reinventions

Pub landlords who reinvented their business to survive the pandemic said they were still struggling to keep their "heads above water" | BBC, UK

'My Son Was Murdered By A County Lines Gang. Why Didn't Police Listen To Me?'

Blind spots from police, social services and even charities are allowing child trafficking to thrive. Here's what needs to change | Huffington Post, UK

Tory London mayor hopeful says basic income would be used for 'lots of drugs'

Shaun Bailey tells London Assembly the universally-paid sum would be misused by citizens | Guardian, UK

Drug drivers are escaping prosecution in 'geographical lottery' where some police ration test kits to one per patrol

[Limited number of free articles per week] Motorists are being put in danger by a postcode lottery where the best forces are catching ten times more drug drivers than the weakest | Telegraph, UK

Porton Down sniffer dogs to detect new strains of prison ‘zombie’ drug Spice

[Free one month trial available] Scientists at the government’s top secret defence laboratory at Porton Down near Salisbury are training a specialist fleet of dogs to detect new strains of the “zombie drug” Spice | The Times, UK

Addiction and the Family International Network (AFINet) Webinar Series

Tuesday 23rd March 2021, 2pm, UK time. UK based charity AFINet (Addiction and the Family International Network) will be continuing its successful international webinar series in March, with Emeritus Professor Jim Orford giving a talk called “Seeing the Bigger Picture: Some Ways Ahead for AFINet”.  | AFINet, UK

Webinar: Residential Rehab and Detox - Mapping a way forward for Tier 4

Thu, 4 March 2021, 10:00 – 12:00 GMT. This webinar will discuss the challenges facing Tier 4, and ask how the system needs to change to improve access to these vital services | Collective Voice, UK

Understanding addiction

Thu, 4 March 2021, 13:00 – 15:00 GMT. Join our online forum for families affected by substance misuse in Suffolk. At the event you will find our more about the neuro-science of addiction. Then we will look at how to use the cycle of change to help you understand where your loved one is and how you can work with them. Finally we will look at setting boundaries | Adfam, UK

Women who use drugs: Voluntary Sector Survey

At We Are With You we are currently researching how drug services can better engage and support women affected by problematic drug misuse. As part of the project we are asking voluntary organisations who specialise in engaging and supporting women to fill in our survey | We Are With You, UK


International news

WA premier backtracks on keeping border checks and tracking post-Covid to stem flow of drugs

Premier Mark McGowan was forced to clarify his position after earlier not ruling out continued use of the G2G tracking pass | Guardian, UK

Off-licence sales a concern for alcohol awareness group

The stresses of Covid-19 and lockdown may have undermined the “dry January” resolve this year, as figures showed a 57pc year-on-year increase in drinks sales for the first month of the year | Independent, Ireland

Syringe Distribution Programs Can Improve Public Health During the Opioid Overdose Crisis

Such initiatives can reduce overdose rates and infectious disease, increase use of treatment | PEW Trusts, USA

Opioid overdose reduced in patients taking buprenorphine

Study indicates the drug is effective in opioid users who also take benzodiazepines for anxiety, other conditions | EurekAlert, USA

The DRAM, Vol. 17(3) - Would you like a bottled, draft, or inhalable beer? Examining emerging trends and risks of inhalable alcohol products

How popular is inhalable alcohol? Are there differences in the usage rates of inhalable alcohol across different demographic groups? What particular risks are associated with inhalable alcohol consumption? | BASIS, USA

Law enforcement seizures of methamphetamine, marijuana rose during pandemic

An analysis of law enforcement seizures of illegal drugs in five key regions of the United States revealed a rise in methamphetamine and marijuana (cannabis) confiscations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Seizures of the two drugs were higher at their peak in August 2020 than at any time in the year prior to the pandemic | NIDA, USA

Drug seizures plummeted early in the COVID-19 pandemic, then climbed once lockdowns lifted

Law enforcement seizures of drugs, particularly marijuana and methamphetamine, dropped at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, then increased significantly in the following months—exceeding pre-pandemic seizure rates and providing clues about the impact of the crisis on substance use... | Medical Xpress, USA

Paper addresses research needed to understand smoking and COVID-19

A new paper discusses how smoking may affect risk for COVID-19 and the types of research that are needed to better understand the link between smoking and COVID-19 risk | Science Daily, USA

U.S. FTC tells e-cigarette firms JUUL, NJOY, others to submit sales, ad data

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Monday it has ordered five e-cigarette companies including JUUL Labs and NJOY to turn over sales and advertising data | Reuters, USA

Puff Bar Defies FDA Crackdown on Fruity E-Cigarettes by Ditching the Tobacco

E-cigarette brand resumes online sales of its disposable vaporizers, saying they now contain ‘tobacco-free nicotine’ | Wall Street Journal, USA

Drug Supply Assessment: Q1 2021 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA (PDF)

This report provides up-to-date information regarding the drug supply in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | NPS Discovery et al, USA

The ‘other’ epidemic: Amid Covid-19, addiction experts fear Biden could back-burner the overdose crisis

There’s an epidemic sweeping the country, causing thousands of needless deaths each month and billions in economic damage. The government response is haphazard. Many Americans remain resistant to the prevention and treatment strategies shown to work best | STAT News, USA

Will Oregon Do the Right Thing for People With Marijuana Convictions?

An important political initiative aims to right some of the wrongs of the War on Drugs in Oregon. Though the state fully legalized marijuana back in 2014—it went on to vote to decriminalize all drug possession in November 2020—it has failed to provide nearly 30,000 impacted residents with a straightforward way to remove their criminal records from past marijuana convictions | Filter Magazine, USA

Ohio orthopedic surgeon gets 3 years in prison for overprescribing opioids

A Green Township, Ohio, orthopedic surgeon was sentenced March 1 to 40 months in prison for prescribing an excessive amount of opioids | Becker's Spine Review, USA

Government of Canada supports expansion of innovative safer supply project to operate in four cities across Canada

The overdose crisis continues to affect communities and families across Canada. Tragically, we have seen significant increases in overdose deaths and related harms during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government of Canada continues to support communities as they respond to drug overdoses during the pandemic and beyond | CISION PR Newswire, Canada

$3.5M in funding for 'vending machines' that dispense safer drugs to prevent ODs

 The federal government has provided nearly $3.5 million in funding for vending machines that will dispense a medical-grade opioid to drug users in four cities in an effort to prevent overdose deaths | Halfax Today, Canada

'Fatal' court ruling the latest hit to addiction treatment program being closed by the province

n Alberta court has denied an application that would have forced the provincial government to continue providing a drug therapy program | CTV News, Canada

New app created at med school aims to help battle opioid crisis, save lives

Naloxone North is the idea of fourth-year medical students MacKenzie Ludgate, Jordan Law and Owen Montpellier. They were tasked with coming up with an idea that would help their community | CTV News, Canada

Reducing Substance Use Stigma: The Role of First Responders

March 22, 2021 | 1:00 - 2:30 p.m., EST. This webinar, targeted at members of the law enforcement community, will focus on reducing stigma by increasing awareness and understanding of substance use and its relationship to mental health | CCSA, Canada

One in 10 people who inject drugs used the anti-psychotic medicine quetiapine for non-medical purposes, says new report

Among 7,000 people who injected drugs (PWID) in Australia between 2011-2018, approximately one in 10 used the antipsychotic medicine quetiapine for non-medical purposes (i.e. in a way that was not prescribed), a study by researchers from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) at UNSW Sydney, has found | NDARC, Australia


Blogs, comment and opinion

Naloxone saves lives – how we are helping to prevent drug related deaths in Scotland

Yanni Yannoulis is a development manager based at our Edinburgh Service. In this article, he talks about his work with people in the local community | Change Grow Live, UK

Tobacco killed 500,000 Americans in 2020 – is it time to control cigarette-makers?

Tobacco use killed an estimated 500,000 Americans in 2020, about the same number the pandemic killed in one year. Although education efforts by government and nonprofits have helped to curb tobacco use, 14% of American adults still smoke, even with warning labels on the packages. Tobacco deaths are so high that the World Health Organization calls smoking an epidemic | Conversation, USA