Weekly news - 16th April 2021


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In date order, Monday to Friday:

NICE recommends range of effective treatments for people with chronic primary pain and calls on healthcare professionals to recognise and treat a person’s pain as valid and unique to them

People with chronic primary pain should not be started on commonly used drugs including paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, benzodiazepines or opioids. This is because there is little or no evidence that they make any difference to people’s quality of life, pain or psychological distress, but they can cause harm, including possible addiction | NICE, UK

Chronic pain sufferers should take exercise, not analgesics, says Nice

Medicines watchdog recommends physical and psychological therapies when treating pain with no known cause | Guardian, UK

Appreciation for the treatment matrices

This is the final message rounding up the Alcohol Treatment Matrix course begun on 8 January 2020, offering fortnightly instalments selecting and commenting on key research. The instalments have cumulated into the now fully updated matrix | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Burning Issue for Asia

A live debate and Q+A, Sunday 18 April 2021. Knowledge Action Change (KAC) and the Association of Vapers India (AVI) invite you to take part in the launch of the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction’s latest briefing | Knowledge Action Change, UK

Methamphetamine developments in South Asia: the situation in Iran and the implications for the EU and its neighbours — EU4MD special report

Iran is a key transhipment point for illicit drugs along the Balkan and Southern trafficking routes and this report examines the threats posed by its potential emergence as a transhipment point for Afghan methamphetamine (‘shisheh’) | EMCDDA, Portugal

Taking stock of half a decade of drug policy - An evaluation of UNGASS implementation

April 2021 marks the five-year anniversary of the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs. This report aims to take stock of progress made on the implementation of the operational recommendations included in the UNGASS Outcome Document | IDPC, UK

Festival drug testing law to be made permanent, Health Minister Andrew Little says

The Government has given a permanent all-clear for pill testing at summer festivals, allowing partygoers to check whether their illicit drugs have been laced | NZ Herald, New Zealand

Examination of the links between parental conflict and substance misuse and the impacts on children’s outcomes

This report is a literature review examining the links between parental conflict and substance misuse and the impacts on children’s outcomes | DWP, UK

Librarians and bin men to be offered overdose training in Scots city amid drug deaths surge

Councillors in Aberdeen have approved the project to give more council workers training in using naloxone amid surging drug deaths across the country | Daily Record, UK

Drug Decriminalisation: Progress or Political Red Herring?

This report, like our previous report on Portugal, is intended to open up the debate on decriminalisation and make clear the expectations people who use drugs have for future action on drug policy reform. Most importantly, it includes a call for full decriminalisation without sanctions as the new baseline for measuring progress on decriminalisation in the future | INPUD, UK

European Union Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment

Close to 40% of the criminal networks active in the EU are involved in the trade in illegal drugs | Europol, The Netherlands

Narcotic Drugs 2020: Estimated World Requirements for 2021 (PDF)

Global production and stocks of opium increased significantly in 2019. Opium imports, on the other hand, showed a strong decrease, from 53.5 tons (5.8 tons in morphine equivalent) in 2018 to only 11.3 tons (1.2 tons in morphine equivalent) in 2019, with one traditional importer ceasing imports altogether. The continuing low demand for the drug could signal a trend towards the eventual elimination of the drug from the international market for opiate raw materials | INCB, Austria

Volunteering as a service user in the UK: Findings from a cross-sector survey (PDF)

The survey focused on service user volunteers in the criminal justice, drug & alcohol, homelessness and complex needs sectors. Its purpose was to inform a new best practice guide to enable organisations to provide the best support to service users working as volunteers and for service users to know what they should expect from the services they volunteer for. {See also Russell's blog below] | Russell Webster, UK

Pints ordered in pubs will be slapped with calorie counts, leaked ‘nanny-state’ plans reveal

Nannying health chiefs are to slap calorie counts on pints ordered in pubs, leaked plans seen by The Sun reveal | The Sun, UK

Psilocybin: Magic mushroom compound 'promising' for depression

Psychedelic drug psilocybin, found in magic mushrooms, is as good at reducing symptoms of depression as conventional treatment, a small, early-stage study has suggested | BBC, UK

Society for the Study of Addiction to take on research update role

From 1 May 2021 the Drug and Alcohol Findings Effectiveness Bank expects to end its core research update service, many aspects of which will instead become available from the Society for the Study of Addiction | Drug and Alcohol Findings, UK

Families need cannabis prescriptions support, say MPs and peers

The treatment was made legal with a prescription in 2018 for those with an "exceptional clinical need". But a cross-party letter from 100 politicians says only three NHS prescriptions have been given out since, forcing families to spend thousands on private treatments | BBC, UK

Lib Dems: SNP has a record of neglect over drugs deaths

Willie Rennie says his party will 'reduce the misery of drug abuse with compassion and health treatment' | STV, UK

Covid stress leads to increase in smoking numbers – survey

The stress of Covid-19 has fuelled Britain’s nicotine habit, with more than half of smokers “stress-smoking” more, and 10% lighting up again after quitting, a survey suggests | ITV, UK

New HRB overview presents latest research on alcohol consumption, harm and policy in Ireland

The HRB has found that while alcohol consumption levels in Ireland have plateaued since 2013, people’s consumption remains significantly higher than the Government’s 2020 target of no more than 9.1 litres of pure alcohol per person a year. In 2019, on average every person in Ireland aged 15 and over drank 10.8 litres of pure alcohol a year – the equivalent of either 40 bottles of vodka, 113 bottles of wine or 436 pints of beer. Given one in four people in Ireland don’t drink at all, actual consumption rates among those who do drink would be much higher than this | HRB, Ireland

Reducing harm due to alcohol: success stories from 3 countries

The WHO-recommended “best buys” for alcohol policy can easily help countries to reduce health harms related to alcohol consumption. But according to the new WHO/Europe report “Making the WHO European Region SAFER. Developments in alcohol control policies, 2010–2019”, not many Member States use these measures. Experience from Lithuania, Scotland and the Russian Federation shows how effective they can be when countries choose to implement them | WHO, Denmark

Alcohol, tobacco & other drugs in Australia

The consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs is a major cause of preventable disease, illness and death in Australia. This report consolidates the most recent information on the availability and consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in Australia, and related impacts, harms and treatment | AIHW, Australia