Weekly news - 1st June 2018


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In date order - Monday to Friday

How addiction took hold of the UK – and cost the NHS millions

In 1975, there were thought to be 5,000 people using heroin in England. As the numbers grew, so did the health service’s bill | Guardian, UK

Another “Bad Batch”?

Last weekend saw both the start of the UK summer festival season and the abrupt end to one of its festivals – forced to close early due to two drug-related deaths and over 15 hospital admissions. Sadly another two young adults have been added to the growing list of festival drug casualties | Volte Face, UK

New link found between alcohol, genes and heart failure

They found a faulty gene may interact with alcohol to accelerate heart failure in some patients with the gene – even if they only drink moderate amounts of alcohol | ITV, UK

Queen’s physician in Scotland, Roy Robertson, backs call for shooting galleries for drug addicts in Glasgow amid rise in HIV cases

[May require free registration to access] The Queen’s physician in Scotland has accused the UK and Scottish governments of failing vulnerable drugs users and urged ministers to back shooting galleries allowing them to inject safely amid a rise in cases of HIV | Sunday Times, UK

Cannabis puts 27,000 people a year in hospital: Rise in admissions could be due to increase in use of super-strength 'skunk', warns MP

There were 27,501 admissions linked to cannabis in England in 2016/17, a 15 per cent rise in just two years from 23,866 in 2014/15 | Mail Online, UK

Formaldehyde levels in e-cigarettes were previously 'underestimated', researchers find

The amount of a new form of the carcinogen formaldehyde found in e-cigarette aerosol emissions may have been previously underestimated according to a study | Pharmaceutical Journal, UK

New drugs strategy will divert drug users away from prosecution

The law-enforcement section of the Scottish Government’s new drugs strategy will recommend diverting more problem users away from prosecution if they’re caught in possession of illegal substances, the Sunday Herald has learned | Herald, UK

Smoking ban plan for playgrounds and hospital grounds

A ban on smoking in outdoor grounds of hospitals, schools and playgrounds in Wales has moved a step closer | BBC, UK

Buprenorphine used in the treatment of opioid dependence: availability and price. Letter (PDF)

Some drug treatment services, and the pharmacists who dispense the medicines they prescribe, have raised concerns about the availability of generic 2mg buprenorphine tablets, and about the price that pharmacists are paid for them when they dispense NHS prescriptions. PHE has been working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to understand the issues and what can be done to mitigate any resulting problems. Please share the information that follows with your drug treatment commissioner and providers | PHE, UK

Inside the UK's First City Centre Drug Testing Facility

After successfully reducing drug-related harms at UK festivals, The Loop are now taking their testing facilities to city centres – starting with Bristol | VICE, UK

Drug-testing facilities should be used at all UK festivals after Mutiny deaths, urge experts

'We find that about half of the people we see then go on to throw away their drugs or take less – if you identify adulterated drugs people don’t take them' | Independent, UK

Alcohol treatment 'in crisis': hope for a new national strategy?

Earlier this month Alcohol Concern/Alcohol Research UK released a new report “The hardest hit: addressing the crisis in alcohol treatment services”, calling for action to address the many issues arising from funding cuts and other challenges facing the sector | Alcohol Policy UK, UK

CLAHRC resources helping hospitals to tackle burden of alcohol-admissions

CLAHRC South London’s alcohol research team has produced resources to support hospitals across the NHS to ask patients about their drinking habits. The resources will help hospitals to meet the new NHS England commitment to screen all patients for alcohol-related problems | CLAHRC, UK

Drug-related homicide in Europe: a first review of the data and literature

Homicide is a violent act that generates high social costs. In particular, drug-related homicide (DRH) has the potential to act as an indicator of wider drug-related crime. Comparing DRH levels between countries with data on this topic can be a valuable tool for identifying trends and new threats | EMCDDA, Portugal

Past Twitter Alerts

This is an archive of Twitter social media alerts produced by the Loop’s drug testing services. These alerts relate to substances that we tested and believed to be a concern for various reasons. For example, some alerts relate to psychoactive substances missold as other drugs, to contaminants, or to unusually high strength drugs that could cause harm to users | The Loop, UK

Brexit battlegrounds: Where are public health and the alcohol industry likely to clash in the years ahead (PDF)

The purpose of this document is to summarise the objectives and priorities for public health organisations and the alcohol industry as the UK government negotiates this post-Brexit landscape. Some of these relate to the successor arrangements that will define the UK’s future relationship with the EU, others to new deals with other countries | IAS, UK

Cannabis Potency - podcast

his week Elle is talking with Dr Tom Freeman from the National Addiction Centre in London but who is currently in Lisbon at the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction | What's the crack?, UK

ASH Ready Reckoner 2018 Edition

A new local costs of smoking calculator | ASH, UK

A majority support liberalising policy towards cannabis

The public has a reasonably liberal attitude towards “soft drugs” and perceive cannabis as being less harmful than tobacco or alcohol | YouGov, UK

Baclofen: its effectiveness in reducing harmful drinking, craving and negative mood. A meta-analysis

Baclofen: what does the evidence really say? Summary of a meta-analysis with comment by Thomas Jones, Senior Addictions Liaison Nurse, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust | SMMGP, UK

Ecstasy on Prescription - BBC audio

MDMA, the key ingredient in the illegal party drug ecstasy, may soon be approved as a medicine. Meanwhile, it's also making a comeback across Europe's clubs and music festivals | BBC, UK

Smoking ban ‘helped drive spike in violence at prison’

A smoking ban has been identified as a factor behind a sharp rise in violence at one of Britain’s oldest jails, according to an inspection report | ITV, UK

World No Tobacco Day, 31 May 2018

The focus of World No Tobacco Day 2018 is "Tobacco and heart disease." | WHO, Switzerland

Festival drug-testing shows a way to reduce harm

When they discover what is in their drugs, users tend to take less of them | Economist, UK

Family festival cancelled amid fears over 'bad batch' of drugs thought to have killed two people

It is a family-friendly event, attended by young children and pensioners who enjoy the jazz and swing music on offer. However, this weekend events at Live at The Bandstand have been cancelled by Portsmouth Council over fears of a dangerous batch of drugs which reportedly claimed the lives of two young people last weekend | Telegraph, UK

Drug-related police encounters across the globe: How do they compare?

Drug law enforcement subsumes the majority of drug policy expenditure across the globe. Fuelled by knowledge that much of this investment is ineffective or counter-productive there have been increasing calls for cross-national comparisons to identify where policing approaches differ and what types of approaches may be more effective | Science Direct, UK

Experts call for ban on e-cigarette flavours to protect children

In a statement published in the European Respiratory Journal [See item below], a group of doctors and scientists from six continents have warned of the dangers posed to youngsters by electronic cigarettes | Independent, UK

Progressing a smokefree NHS

A little over a year ago, I wrote to the chief executive of every NHS Trust in England, calling for their personal commitment to work with PHE towards a truly smokefree NHS | PHE blog, UK