Weekly news - 12th May 2017

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In date order, Monday to Friday

'Unnecessary' painkillers could leave thousands addicted, doctors warn

Prescriptions for powerful opioid painkillers have doubled from 12m to 24m in past decade, NHS Digital figures reveal. Our director, Harry Shapiro quoted in this article | Guardian, UK

More than half of UK vapers 'have given up smoking'

For the first time, more than half of the UK's electronic-cigarette users have since given up smoking tobacco, a study suggests | BBC, UK

South Yorkshire drug deaths: Warning of contaminated heroin

Police are warning drug users over possible contaminated heroin after seven people died in the Barnsley area over the last three weeks | BBC, UK

DDN May 2017

Latest issue out now. Hogwash and purdah – it’s election season again and where is the long-awaited drug strategy? The pages of this issue will tell you that we need change, but unlike many of the party political broadcasts they are specific about what’s wrong and what must change | DDN, UK

How Do People Who Frequently Attend Emergency Departments for Alcohol-Related Reasons Use, View, and Experience Specialist Addiction Services?

People who frequently attend emergency departments (EDs) for alcohol-related reasons, cost health systems greatly. Although specialist addiction services may be more appropriate for their needs, drinkers often experience barriers accessing specialist alcohol-related support | Substance Use and Misuse, UK

A little cannabis every day might keep brain ageing at bay

In some cultures, it’s traditional for elders to smoke grass, a practice said to help them pass on tribal knowledge. It turns out that they might just be onto something | New Scientist, UK

Tobacco products and e-cigarette cross-border sales registration

How businesses that supply tobacco products and e-cigarettes via cross-border distance sales can register with the UK government | PHE, UK

Prison smoking ban could see 'massive rise' in drug use and violence in British jails, experts warn

Criminal justice experts warn ban will lead to rise in illicit substances and increased levels of self-harm and violence | Independent, UK

Teenagers ill after taking prescription drug Xanax

Up to 20 teenagers in Wiltshire have needed medical treatment after taking the prescription drug Xanax in the last week, police have said | BBC, UK

Should people who end up in hospital because they were drunk be charged for their emergency care? Plus, renaming venues and making beds results

6856 UK adults were questioned on 4 May 2017 | You Gov, UK

A new way to detect ecstasy has been discovered

A new method of detecting ecstasy has been discovered, which could improve the reliability and simplicity of testing for the drug in home kits and for professional operations such as The Loop | MixMag, UK

Poorest at greater risk from heavy drinking, says study

The poorest in society are more likely to suffer the health repercussions of excessive drinking, according to a new study [item below] | BBC, UK

Socioeconomic status as an effect modifier of alcohol consumption and harm: analysis of linked cohort data

Alcohol-related mortality and morbidity are high in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations compared with individuals from advantaged areas | Lancet, UK

Protecting children from passive smoking in their home

Statement from Professor John Middleton, President of the Faculty of Public Health | FPH, UK

Naloxone is a heath intervention that can’t be effectively provided without the knowledge and social connections of people who inject drugs

Programmes to provide naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opiate overdose, are successful because they harness the social contexts of drug use and train drug users to be ‘indigenous public health workers’ capable of intervening in an overdose, according to a qualitative study published in the May issue of Social Science & Medicine | NAMAidsmap, UK

Universities must do more to tackle use of smart drugs, say experts

Academics call on institutions to consider measures such as drug testing to stem UK rise of drugs used to cope with exam stress | Guardian, UK

Interesting things about alcohol and other drugs, May 2017

Andrew Brown (@andrewbrown365) provides an overview of the latest drug and alcohol statistics, including on the extent of and attitudes towards alcohol use in the UK | MEAM, UK

Spice and police custody: there must be a better way

A string of shocking videos showing users of the drug “spice” in frozen and catatonic states on Britain’s streets and in prisons have sparked a national debate about how to deal with the substance and its users. But these disturbing images are just a snapshot | Conversation, UK

Family recovery from alcohol and drug addiction

A ground-breaking national survey looking at what addiction and recovery from addiction means for families of people with drug and alcohol problems has been launched | Sheffield Hallam University, UK

Drug and alcohol treatment in England: numbers and trends

Analysed textually and pictorially through 20 charts, the performance of England’s drug and alcohol treatment system up to 2015/16 - the ageing caseload, the puzzle of waning success with opiate users but increasing with drinkers, the dramatic fall in new young opiate use patients, and how deeply treatment has penetrated the population of dependent opiate users and drinkers | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

An Abstinent Manifesto

From reading the leaked Labour manifesto this morning it is safe to say that the message is one of total abstinence. By that I don’t mean the Labour party have thought long and hard on drug policy and decided to provide an abstinence based message on drugs, I mean there is absolutely no plan, no intention to reference or address the many issues surrounding drugs policy in the UK | Volte Face, UK

Combining heroin and commonly prescribed non-opioid pain killers leads to a significant rise in overdose

A multi-disciplinary study has shown that the recent substantial increase in prescriptions for two drugs, pregabalin and gabapentin, used widely for a range of neurological disorders is closely correlated with a rise in the number of overdose deaths in England and Wales | EurekAlert, USA

Smoking ban should include all public areas, health experts say

Smoking should be banned in all public areas, health experts have said | Independent, UK

What you need to know about Xanax

These pills are Xanax, a drug widely prescribed in the US to treat anxiety | BBC Newsbeat, UK

Smoking charity backs calls for smokefree social housing in Wales

The smoking charity ASH Wales has backed calls from a leading health organisation for smokefree social housing in Wales | ITV, UK