Weekly news - 11th October 2019


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Medicines associated with dependence or withdrawal: a mixed-methods public health review and national database study in England

[Open access] Antidepressants, opioids for non-cancer pain, gabapentinoids (gabapentin and pregabalin), benzodiazepines, and Z-drugs (zopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem) are commonly prescribed medicine classes associated with a risk of dependence or withdrawal. We aimed to review the evidence for these harms and estimate the prevalence of dispensed prescriptions, their geographical distribution, and duration of continuous receipt using all patient-linked prescription data in England | Lancet, UK

Last chance to comment on government’s prevention proposals

The consultation on the government’s proposals to prevent – among other things – alcohol and drug use, and smoking, closes on 14 October. Traditional public health interventions have led to significant improvements in the nation’s health but these are beginning to slow. There is also a clear social gradient to healthy life expectancy with people in deprived areas living shorter lives and spending more of those years in poor health. Government is seeking your views on proposals to tackle the causes of preventable ill health in England | DHSC, UK

North Wales police to offer drug users rehab instead of prison

People arrested for possession will no longer be automatically prosecuted under new scheme | Guardian, UK

Expert quits Home Office drug panel over 'political vetting'

Prof Alex Stevens resigns after appointment of Release director vetoed by minister | Guardian, UK

Time for safer injecting facilities in Britain?

Are drug consumption rooms (DCRs) an evidence-based policy for addressing injecting-related harm and drug-related deaths? What ‘counts’ as evidence in favour of DCRs, and who decides? Is evidence alone enough to persuade politicians and policymakers to trial DCRs in the UK? A substantially updated Effectiveness Bank hot topic asks whether it is time for DCRs in Britain, and how the answer ‘no’ has been justified by the UK Government to date | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Pensioners taking anti-depressants doubles in two decades, amid warnings they 'may not need them'

The number of over-65s taking anti-depressants has doubled in two decades, amid warnings the elderly are being given pills they don't need | Telegraph, UK

Two rough sleepers died each day last year sparking urgent plea from nurses

The Royal College of Nursing wants to reverse cuts to addiction, mental health and other support services so 726 preventable deaths can be stopped | Mirror, UK

Britain's minister responsible for drug policy replaced

Kit Malthouse takes over from Victoria Atkins, whose time in charge was mired in controversy | Guardian, UK

DDN Magazine October 2019

For a long time now we’ve been involved in initiatives to help remove barriers for those seeking to get back into work (page 6 and page 12). Remember the UKDPC’s work on tackling stigma and getting people who have used drugs back into employment? Remember the old heated debates in DDN about the ‘two-year rule’ used by some employers to demand ‘clean’ time before people could be considered for a job? | DDN, UK

Smoking reduction interventions for smoking cessation

To assess the effect of reduction‐to‐quit interventions on long‐term smoking cessation | Cochrane Library, UK

The Steady Rise of the Two-Pint Cocaine Habit

Drinking and drugging have always gone hand-in-hand, but ease of access means Britain is getting on it more than ever | VICE, UK

'County Lines' drug supply: Exploiting the young and vulnerable; enriching organised crime (PDF)

‘County lines’ is the term used to describe a drug supply network set up by organised crime groups (OCGs) between urban and suburban locations, typically rural and coastal towns and villages | Transform, UK

Are addiction clinics the answer for those hooked on prescription pills? We speak to experts about the range of possible solutions to UK's medications crisis

‘The increased prescribing of these potentially addictive drugs shows the urgent need for [dedicated centres],’ says Harry Shapiro, director of DrugWise, the information charity, who also sits on NHS and Parliamentary addiction advisory groups | Mail Online, UK

Scottish Drug Misuse Database (data release) (PDF)

This release by Information Services Division presents the data available from the Scottish Drug Misuse Database (SDMD) on individuals presenting for initial assessment at specialist drug treatment services in 2017/18 | ISD, UK

Juul Is Sued by School Districts That Say Vaping Is a Dangerous Drain on Their Resources

The lawsuits accuse Juul of endangering students and forcing educators to divert time and money to fight an epidemic of nicotine addiction among teenagers | NYTimes, USA

New approach to tackling drug addiction in Middlesbrough unveiled

A pioneering treatment and recovery programme aimed at freeing the most entrenched heroin users from addiction is launched next week | Cleveland PCC, UK

GPs stopped giving alcohol advice to patients when they stopped being paid to do so

When the Department of Health (England) introduced financial incentives to encourage general practitioners (GPs) to talk to patients about their drinking in April 2008, there was a small, gradual increase in screening and the provision of alcohol advice | EurekAlert, UK

Government forced into U-turn over disability benefits for chronically ill

Sick claimants were wrongly denied benefits because they were not taking powerful painkillers | Guardian, UK

Police force to be first in Wales to offer drug users rehab instead of prosecution

The scheme aims to improve people's life chances by avoiding getting a criminal record | Wales Online, UK

SNP set to back decriminalisation of drugs in bid to tackle death toll crisis

A motion to endorse the drugs policy shift is expected to be passed at the party’s conference in Aberdeen this weekend as pressure builds on Tories at Westminster to devolve issue to Scotand | Daily Record, UK

Children 'interested in' gambling and alcohol, according to Facebook

Facebook has marked hundreds of thousands of children as “interested in” adverts about gambling and alcohol, a joint investigation by the Guardian and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation has found | Guardian, UK

Sesame Street takes on opioids crisis as muppet's mother battles addiction

Creators introduce bright-green Karli: ‘Nothing else out there addresses substance abuse for young kids from their perspective’ | Guardian, UK

Psychiatry and the global drugs debate: what every psychiatrist needs to know (PDF)

There are few topics that divide public opinion as sharply as the use of psychoactive substances and it is easy to see why. Substance use is complex and can be examined from numerous perspectives, including legal, health, economic, cultural and ethical. These varying approaches can lead to a range of different conclusions. Here we explore some of the common approaches adopted towards drug policy and suggest a number of principles, which may inform a psychiatrist’s own view | BJPsych editorial, UK

Revealed: How much cocaine Londoners are taking every day

The amount of pure cocaine being consumed in London on average is more than Barcelona, Amsterdam and Berlin combined | Sky News, UK

Alcohol duty cuts linked to 2,000 additional deaths in England

The report, Modelling the impact of alcohol duty policies since 2012 in England and Scotland, has found that recent reductions in alcohol duty have had a dramatic negative effect on public health | IAS, UK

Protecting Children and Young People from Harm

Last year, 1584 children were unnecessarily dragged through the courts for possession of cannabis, with four out of five being found guilty, resulting in criminal records that will haunt them for their whole lives | RADIX, UK

Self-inflicted deaths rise in prisons in England and Wales

Self-inflicted prison deaths in England and Wales have increased by 23% in a year, while drug abuse continues to plague facilities despite repeated recommendations to tackle the problems, the prisons watchdog has found | Guardian, UK

Scots urged to join forces with Wales to demand powers to implement radical drugs strategies

A combined approach could perhaps convince the Home Office to allow both countries to do things their own way | Daily Record, UK

Police Scotland unveil new drug-driving detection kits

Officers will be able use DrugWipes - dubbed "drugalysers" - to check for cannabis and cocaine | BBC, UK

Do safe-injection sites work?

International evidence suggests that letting addicts take drugs under supervision saves lives | Economist, UK

Sesame Street to cover opioid addiction with new muppet Karli

US children's TV show Sesame Street is set to reveal that one of its muppets' mothers had an opioid addiction | BBC, UK