Weekly news - 15th September 2017

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Strong painkiller use 'doubles in 15 years'

The use of powerful prescription painkillers has doubled in the last 15 years, according to a report by public health experts [Harry Shapiro of DrugWise quoted] | Telegraph, UK

Deaths by drug poisoning where any opiates were mentioned on the death certificate, local authorities in England and Wales, 1993 to 2016

Deaths involving opiates by English and Welsh local authorities, deaths registered between 1993 and 2016 | ONS, UK

Opiate-linked death rate in Wales 50% higher than England

The proportion of deaths in Wales connected to opiates - such as heroin - was 50% higher than England last year, official figures have shown | BBC, UK

Prescription drug pregabalin linked to death rise

Deaths linked to a drug readily prescribed on the NHS have increased dramatically after claims it has flooded the black market | BBC, UK

The Lammy Review (PDF)

An independent review into the treatment of, and outcomes for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system | Lammy Review, UK

How alcohol industry organisations mislead the public about alcohol and cancer

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of several types of cancer, including several common cancers. As part of their corporate social responsibility activities, the alcohol industry (AI) disseminates information about alcohol and cancer. We examined the information on this which the AI disseminates to the public through its ‘social aspects and public relations organizations’ and related bodies. The aim of the study was to determine its comprehensiveness and accuracy | Drug and Alcohol Review, UK

£20 million funding boost and ‘overhaul’ of Scotland’s drug strategy announced

The Scottish Government has published A Nation With Ambition, its programme for 2017-18. This includes a £20 million pound investment in alcohol and drug treatment and support services. Scottish Drugs Forum has demonstrated the fact and consequences of reductions in local spending and welcomes this announcement | SDF, UK

'Weak evidence' light alcohol use in pregnancy harms

There is "surprisingly limited" evidence that light drinking during pregnancy poses any risk to the baby, say UK researchers | BBC, UK

Evidence for potential harms of light drinking in pregnancy ‘surprisingly’ limited

But review confirms alcohol best avoided ‘just in case’, say researchers | BMJ Blog, UK

E-cigarettes containing nicotine linked to raised heart attack risk

Increased stroke risk also seen in Swedish study of devices containing the stimulant | Guardian, UK

Expert reaction to three conference papers on e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are certain to have some health effects, and it is very important that non-smokers do not start using them erroneously thinking that they are harmless | Science Media Centre, UK

Interesting new drug facts – August 2017

This is the latest post in a monthly series reproducing Andrew Brown’s monthly slideshare of interesting new facts about alcohol and other drugs which he has unearthed from a wide range of reports | Russell Webster, UK


Stoptober encourages smokers across England to make a quit attempt during October. Further information on this year’s campaign will be shared shortly. Existing resources here | PHE, UK

Prescribing of potentially addictive prescription drugs on the rise

The number of people who are prescribed potentially addictive drugs has been increasing steadily since 2000, with one in 11 people in primary care in England taking these drugs | NIHR, UK

70% of UK drinkers reject drinking guidelines

Some seven out of 10 drinkers have said they ignore the Government’s alcohol drinking guidelines, according to a new survey | Morning Advertiser, UK

One in four EU workers exposed to second-hand smoke at work

More than one in four people who work indoors are being exposed to second-hand smoke at work, according to new research | Imperial College London, UK

Overdoses on opioid painkillers more than double in a decade

Number of hospital admissions in England rose to 11,660 last year as doctors say drugs are being prescribed too readily [DrugWise's Harry Shapiro quoted] | Guardian, UK

Press release: PHE launches Rise Above for Schools programme

PHE has developed a series of new resources for secondary school teachers to use in their lesson plans as part of the Rise Above for Schools programme. The resources will help teachers to engage pupils with coping strategies about ‘traditional’ health issues, like smoking and alcohol, while also addressing some of the most challenging pressures young people face today in an ‘always on’ social media generation | PHE, UK

Guidance: Alcohol: applying All Our Health

Examples and interventions to help people live healthy lifestyles, make healthy choices and reduce health inequalities | PHE, UK

PHE 'All Our Health' alcohol resource

PHE's All Our Health strategy aims to 'maximise the impact healthcare professionals in England can have on improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities', with alcohol identified as one of the key indicators in health improvement owing to the 10.4 million adults drinking above the low risk guidelines | Alcohol Policy UK, UK

New liver disease atlas shows major variation across England

The rate of people dying early from liver disease in some parts of England is almost 8 times higher than others | PHE, UK

UK alcohol damage mapped: The areas of Britain where drink is taking heaviest toll

Hospital admissions linked to liver damage have doubled in a decade, according to new figures which show the parts of the country where alcohol is taking the heaviest toll | Telegraph, UK

GP-delivered brief interventions an ‘important piece of the alcohol
policy jigsaw’

Doctors working in Scotland share their thoughts on what helps and
hinders the delivery of brief alcohol interventions in general practice.
Stifled by short consultation times and faced by a lack of awareness
among patients of what constitutes harmful/hazardous drinking, doctors face numerous challenges to embedding these interventions in routine practice despite or regardless of their enthusiasm | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

The Sandwell multi-agency management group for high impact problem drinkers - interim evaluation

In 2015, the Metropolitan Borough Council of Sandwell, working with Alcohol Concern, adopted the Blue Light approach to develop a local response to high impact, change-resistant problem drinkers | Alcohol Research UK, UK

The future of the international drug control system and national drug prohibitions

A major impediment to any nation abandoning the policy of drug prohibition has been the fact that international drug treaties to which the majority of United Nations (UN) member states are signatory prohibit the non-medical use of amphetamines, cannabis, cocaine and heroin | Addiction, UK