Daily news - 31st March 2021

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UK news

'Sobriety ankle tags' rolled out across England

A scheme to fit electronic tags on offenders to see if they are breaching court-ordered drinking bans is being rolled out across England | BBC, UK

Smoking prevalence in never worked, long-term unemployed and full-time students

Detailed ad-hoc analysis of smoking prevalence, calculated from the Annual Population Survey | PHE, UK

The ACMD’s report “An assessment of the harms of gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB), gamma-butyrolactone (GBL), and closely related compounds”. (PDF) [Letter]

Dear Professor Bowden-Jones, Thank you for your report of 20 November on GHB and related substances. The report is comprehensive and detailed, and I would like to thank the ACMD members for the care and expertise that they have once again demonstrated | Home Office, UK

'Tinkering' with GHB Laws Will Not Prevent Deaths or Serious Crimes

Drug experts say reclassifying the party and date rape drug will not reduce its potential to cause damage | VICE, UK

Real Chemistry - new support for men moving on from problems with chemsex

Real Chemistry is a new resource supporting gay and bisexual men moving on from problems with chemsex. Real Chemistry provides men with the support they need to sustain their recovery goals and enjoy better connections, relationships and sex | London Friend, UK

New e-learning course and booklet on hepatitis B in Scotland dedicated to raising awareness 

A new, free to access e-learning course on hepatitis B in Scotland and a Living with hepatitis B booklet have been launched by Hepatitis Scotland | SDF, UK

Free course on alcohol treatment research now fully updated

Time to recap the journey started over a year ago to update the Alcohol Treatment Matrix, a unique mapping of seminal and key research and guidance on treatment and brief interventions, organised in a 5x5 grid graduating from interventions to whole treatment systems. The 25 instalments remain freely available | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

The association of acute alcohol use and dynamic suicide risk with variation in onward care after psychiatric crisis

[Open access] We investigated the effect of acute alcohol use and ongoing suicidality on onward caredecisions after emergency assessment | Drug and Alcohol Review, UK

Are there differences in the levels of PTSD and harmful drinking in the UK Armed Forces and UK Police Service?

PhD student Patsy Irizar and colleagues at the University of Liverpool and King’s College London have published a new collaborative study, comparing the levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and harmful drinking in male members of the UK Armed Forces and the UK Police Service | University of Liverpool, UK

British study links alcohol with lower risk of developing cataracts

People who consume up to 14 units of alcohol a week have less chance of developing cataracts, especially if they drink red wine, a new British study has found | Guardian, UK

Our Year of Listening

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, we quickly adapted our services to keep people safe. We needed to listen to the people who used our services to make sure these changes were working, so in June, we launched our Pulse Survey | Change Grow Live, UK

Current Issues in Drug Use and Treatment

Thursday, 15 April 2021 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm. This webinar will provide attendees with up-to-date knowledge from Public Health England about emerging areas of drug treatment or trends in drug use that Social Workers may encounter in different areas of front-line practice.  There will also be discussion on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on patterns of drug use and drug harms | BASW, UK

Protected: Northern Ireland, Take Drugs Seriously: Voices from the ground

To mark the Northern Ireland: Take Drugs Seriously Webinar, we are highlighting the stories of people who work in drug treatment services in the region. Join us on Thursday 1st April at 19:00 BST to hear from more people with expertise and lived experience about why they campaign for a new approach | Transform, UK

Eyebrows raised as £900 pub bill listed among 'strange' Home Office expenses

The Home Office has moved to explain a series of expenses accrued in 2020, including a £900 outlay at an Oxford gastropub | Morning Advertiser, UK

JDW to pump £895m in 168 new pubs and refurbishing existing sites

Pub behemoth JD Wetherspoon is set to invest £895m in developing new sites alongside upgrading existing venues in its portfolio as part of a 10-year plan | Morning Advertiser, UK


International news

Irish pubs could become work hubs in post-pandemic plan

Irish pubs could be turned into remote working hubs under a post-pandemic plan to give rural villages a new lease on life | BBC, UK

What ARE they smoking? Scientists claim people who regularly smoke cannabis are just as likely to exercise as non-users

The stereotype of a cannabis smoker is one of a laid back, lackadaisical, sloth-like individual who is trapped in a lethargic stupor, with exercise far from their mind | Mail Online, UK

Russ becomes latest US rapper to launch his own cannabis line

New Jersey-based rapper Russell James Vitale, who performs under the name Russ, has joined the flourishing cannabis industry in a collaboration with the leading West Coast brand Wonderbrett | Independent, UK

US court sentences Honduran president's brother to life in drug case

Juan Antonio ‘Tony’ Hernández was sentenced in Manhattan federal court and ordered to forfeit $138m | Guardian, UK

Evidence review of drug treatment services for people who are homeless and use drugs

Substance use is more prevalent among people who are homeless than in the general population, and providing support services and drug treatment in a holistic way for this population should be a priority. Increasing the provision of evidence-based support may lead to improvements in health, well-being, and quality of life (QoL), and to a reduction in costs to healthcare and wider public services. The Irish National Drugs Strategy aims to improve access to treatment services for people who are homeless who use drugs and have complex needs | HRB, Ireland

Civil Society Monitoring of Harm Reduction in Europe, 2020 (PDF)

The purpose of this report is to enrich the information and knowledge base of harm reduction interventions in Europe from the viewpoint of civil society organisations. We believe that this approach is a necessary, and useful, contribution to the development of drug policy in the region | Correlation Harm Reduction Network, The Netherlands

REVIEW ARTICLE Combining ecstasy and ethanol: higher risk for toxicity? A review

Ecstasy use is commonly combined with ethanol consumption. While combination drug use in general is correlated with a higher risk for toxicity, the risk of the specific combination of ecstasy and ethanol is largely unknown | Critical Reviews in Toxicology, The Netherlands

Teenage Brains May Be Especially Vulnerable to Marijuana and Other Drugs

Teenagers are more likely to get hooked on marijuana, stimulants and other recreational drugs than college-aged or older adults | NYTimes, USA

Substance use disorders added to CDC list of health conditions that raise COVID risks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has added substance use disorders, such as alcohol, opioid or cocaine use, to its list of medical conditions that put individuals at greater risk of developing severe COVID-19 | TriCity Herald, USA

New $6.4M research program to advance psychedelics research and treatments

Psychedelics research in support of brain health is getting a major boost this month with the formation of the Neuroscape Psychedelics Division at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) | EurekAlert, USA

I Hid My Wounds for Months and Nearly Lost My Life: Stigma Kills Drug Users

It could almost have been a Saturday Night Live skit. I wish to God it was. Someone came into my hospital room wearing a yellow suit straight out of Star Trek. Doctors then arrived to add what to me was just technobabble. Well, they said, you have Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). And hepatitis C | Filter Magazine, USA

Why Are Congress Members Demanding That the FDA Halt Its Evaluation of Flavored Vapes?

Last week, dozens of United States Congress members demanded that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strip flavored vaping products from the market by halting a long-awaited federal product review process | Filter Magazine, USA

Government of Canada announces $20 million to help communities respond to increasing opioid-related overdoses

Projects will provide training and awareness on opioid overdose response to 2.4 million Canadians and enable the distribution of 58,000 naloxone kits | Cision PR Newswire, Canada

Hundreds still ending up in court for cannabis possession

Despite a law change in 2019 to allow more police discretion, many people are still ending up in front of judges for low-level drug offending. Alex Braae reports | The Spinoff, New Zealand


Blogs, comment and opinion

Improving commissioning in a time of change

With reforms to health and social care on the way, policymakers have a unique opportunity to embed and strengthen what we know works | We Are With You, UK

Marti Pellow on success, songwriting and sobriety: 'Every day I punch addiction in the face!'

With Wet Wet Wet, Pellow was one of the biggest-selling musicians of the 90s. But heroin and alcohol soon became a problem. He talks about heroes, love and conquering his demons | Guardian, UK

Mexico moves to legalize cannabis use, a modest step toward de-escalating drug war

Mexico’s lower house of Congress in March handily approved a bill to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. The bill is now with the Senate, where it is likely to pass, as Mexican senators have previously voted to legalize cannabis | Conversation, UK

E talking: MDMA Therapy & the “Psychedelic Renaissance”

Popular perceptions of MDMA (3,4 Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine) are of its identity as “molly” or ecstasy—a good-time party-drug for young people around the world | Points blog, USA