Weekly news - 24th March 2017

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In date order, Monday to Friday

Methylphenidate-based drugs and phytocannabinoids: letter from Sarah Newton to the ACMD

Sarah Newton reponds to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs about its further advice on methylphenidate-based drugs and phytocannabinoids | ACMD, UK

Teenagers are 'replacing drugs with smartphones', researchers suggest

Smoking, drinking and drug use among teenagers have more than halved over 10 years | Independent, UK

New laws on smoking and cigarettes are coming into force - what you need to know

The new laws were actually introduced in May last year, but shops and suppliers were given a year to adjust and get rid of old stock | Wales Online, UK

Warn families of risk of sex and gambling addictions with Parkinson's drugs, doctors told 

The families of Parkinson's sufferers must be warned about dangers of sex and gambling addictions caused by drugs used to treat the disease, doctors have been told | Telegraph, UK

'Decriminalise personal drug use to free up prison space', say Lib Dems

Party believes criminalisation of low level users is behind jail overcrowding | Independent, UK

'There is NO difference between vaping and smoking' - the small print that could invalidate all your insurance

As far as insurers are concerned, a drag on a cigarette is identical to a puff on a vaping device. And that could spell disaster for you | Mirror, UK

Number of soldiers failing drugs tests reaches seven year high as one in every 100 tests positive

Sources claim more soldiers are now booted out of the army for drugs offences than anything else | Mirror, UK

Corporate report: ACMD members' register of interests

This register of interests for the council members of the ACMD lists their occupations, the organisations they work for and the nature of any interests they might have | ACMD, UK

Open consultation: Alcohol structures

Seeking views on options to amend the structure of the alcohol duty system so that duty rates better correspond to alcoholic strength | HM Treasury, UK

Fixing the UK’s alcohol taxes

The UK’s current system of alcohol excise duties is a mess: for instance, a litre of 7.5% ABV beer is liable for 138p of tax, but a litre of 7.5% ABV cider (that contains exactly the same amount of ethanol) is liable for only 39p of tax. Meanwhile, the real level of excise duty on the strongest products, spirits, has fallen by 50% since 1978/9 | IFS, UK

Supreme court to consider appeal to enforce smoking ban in UK jails

Prisoner Paul Black argues that rules on smoking in communal areas are not being upheld, exposing him to dangerous levels of secondhand smoke | Guardian, UK

Substance Use Commissioning Forum – Commissioning for Recovery (PDF)

This event was facilitated and organised by Adfam in cooperation with Collective Voice, on behalf of the Recovery Partnership. It brought together a group of substance misuse commissioners from across the country to share good practice, challenges and concerns. The focus of the day was commissioning for recovery – how holistic services can be commissioned to facilitate the recovery of those with drug and alcohol issues, and their communities and families | Recovery Partnership / Adfam / Collective Voice, UK

Smoking and Mental Health: IMPACT Guidance launch Tuesday 21 March

Since mid-2015 ASH Scotland has been running a project called IMPACT – Improving Mental and Physical health: Achieving Cessation Targets.  This two-year endeavour has sought to raise awareness within Lothians-based community-based settings about how smoking can impact upon mental health – and how services can help address this | ASH Scotland, UK

Window to brain's reward system could lead to better treatments for alcoholism

In a small trial, carried out at Imperial College London, researchers have provided a unique view into the brains of active alcoholics taking a newly licensed treatment, showing that the medication blunts the brain's reward pathway | Medical Xpress, UK

User characteristics of a smartphone app to reduce alcohol consumption

Digital interventions are available to help people reduce their alcohol consumption, but it is not known who uses these interventions and how this treatment-seeking group compares with the general population of drinkers | Springer-Verlag, UK

Daily Harm Reduction

New website. The idea is a simple one, we are planning to have one harm reduction tip or related quote each weekday for people to use to support their work or just have a bit of inspiration from someone in history | Daily Harm Reduction, UK

System launched to help tackle harms from new psychoactive substances

A new online system - Report Illicit Drug Reaction (RIDR) - has been launched today to improve our knowledge of the harmful effects of new psychoactive substances (NPS – commonly known as ‘legal highs’) | PHE, UK

'Zombie' drug side effects to be recorded on national database 

A national database of “zombie” drug side effects has been launched to help doctors overcome their “poor” grasp of banned new psychoactive substances, health chiefs have announced | Telegraph, UK

Alcohol licensing: a guide for public health teams

Public health teams make sure that licensing policy and applications consider the health and wellbeing of local communities | PHE, UK

Cider duty consultation announced: will 'white cider' survive?

A consultation on duty for cider under 7.5% ABV and still wine between 5.5% and 8.5% ABV has been launched by the treasury, as promised in the recent spring budget | Alcohol Policy UK, UK

Managing the talking route to recovery from alcohol dependence

Fortnightly instalment of online course starts with a study which concluded that “leaders ... have a cascading impact on their staff”. Findings that post-training ‘coaching’ is needed to produce competent therapists mean management is critical to client progress. Ends with how poorly progressing clients are ‘rescued’ by systems which let therapists know how (especially how badly) their clients are doing | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Welcome to the website of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for New Psychoactive Substances and Volatile Substance Abuse

The purpose of this newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group is to help monitor the issues and challenges which remain. Witnesses requested to give evidence will highlighted where the legislation has been successful and where more focus needs applying to residual problems. The Group’s findings will be fed back to policy-makers and stakeholders | APPG, UK

‘The rate of drug-related deaths is at scandalous proportions’

New psychoactive drugs will add to the problem if we don’t deal with them properly, says Lord Carlile, chairman of Addaction | Guardian, UK

Moderate drinking can lower risk of heart attack, says study

Drinking in moderation helps protect heart, with study finding it lowers risk of many conditions compared with not drinking | Guardian, UK

Is there a drug problem in Wrexham?

When pictures of people apparently high on drugs in Wrexham's bus station were posted on social media earlier this month, it prompted claims by some the town has a major drugs problem | BBC, UK

Cannabis legislation in Europe: an overview

At a time of increased debate on the laws controlling the use of cannabis in the European Union, this report answers some of the questions most often asked about cannabis legislation. Using a question and answer format, basic definitions and the obligations of countries under international law are set out in a section on ‘What is cannabis and what are countries’ obligations to control it?‘ | EMCDDA, Portugal

Interesting new drug facts (March 2017)

Drug & alcohol misuse and treatment in prisons | Russell Webster, UK

Methylphenidate-based novel psychoactive substances: temporary class drug order recommendations

Recommendations for a temporary class drug order on a number of methylphenidate-based novel psychoactive substances | ACMD, UK

Association between clinically recorded alcohol consumption and initial presentation of 12 cardiovascular diseases: population based cohort study using linked health records

 To investigate the association between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease at higher resolution by examining the initial lifetime presentation of 12 cardiac, cerebrovascular, abdominal, or peripheral vascular diseases among five categories of consumption | BMJ, UK

Moderate drinking may reduce heart disease risk

Researchers found that people who drank alcohol within moderate drinking guidelines were less likely to have a first episode of a range of heart and vascular diseases than those who never drank alcohol | NHS Choices, UK

Mixing alcohol and energy drinks 'may be a risky cocktail'

A review of evidence found a number of potential risks, but the picture was not as clear-cut as reported | NHS Choices, UK

Global smoking rates have fallen since introduction of international tobacco control strategy

Smoking rates have fallen globally since the World Health Organisation (WHO) introduced a treaty aimed at reducing tobacco demand, according to a new study | Cancer Research UK, UK

School-based alcohol and drug education and prevention – what works?

This briefing paper intends to equip and guide those working in educational settings when considering which alcohol and drug education and prevention programme they should run. It outlines some approaches that evidence shows work and cautions on some that don’t | Mentor - ADEPIS, UK

Official Statistics: HIV: annual data tables

HIV surveillance data in the UK by demographic characteristics and geographical region | PHE, UK

The Secret Diary of a Drug Treatment Worker

This is the first in a series of anonymous articles exploring what it is like to work on the frontline of drug treatment in the UK and deal with the issues which face both those who walk through the door for help, and those who are tasked with providing it | Volte face, UK