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Daily news - 21st February 2022

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UK news

Valium deaths soar as drug users mix ‘benzos’ with cocaine

Benzodiazepines, used to counteract stimulants, were mentioned on the death certificates of 476 people in England and Wales last year | Guardian, UK

NHS stops taking gambling funds to treat addiction

The NHS will stop taking money from the gambling industry to treat people with addiction, the NHS England national mental health director has said | BBC, UK

Children at risk: Cuts to alcohol addiction treatment coincide with increase in parents' heavy drinking

Millions of children are at risk due to an increase in heavy drinking among adults, combined with cuts to alcohol addiction services | Sky News, UK

Medicinal cannabis UK: Expert comments on future use - 'Shame it's taken so long'

Amber Moore and Toby Webster both form part of the team at the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, an evidence-based policy forum that promotes informed debate on drug policy reform. Express.co.uk recently sat down with them to discuss the past and the future of medicinal cannabis | Express, UK

Lay member: alcohol-use disorders: prevention committee

We’re looking for people with personal experience of NHS services for the prevention and early identification of alcohol use disorders. Candidates should also have an understanding of the issues important to people using services, unpaid carers, communities and the public. Closing date: 5pm on Sunday 20 March 2022 | NICE, UK

Forget Dry January - adopt mindful drinking instead

[Limited number of free articles per week] It's time to reset your relationship with booze. Here’s everything you need to know for the rest of the year and beyond | Telegraph, UK

Norwich: From homelessness, drugs and sex work to motherhood - video

Five years ago, Jessy was homeless and working as a prostitute in Norwich to feed her heroin habit | BBC, UK

Radical Social Work Approaches to Scotland's Drug & Alcohol Issues

Wed, 9 March 2022, 13:00 – 14:00 GMT. Our latest webinar on radical social work approaches to Scotland's social issues looks at drugs and alcohol issues | Stephen Smellie, Convenor, UNISON Scotland SWIG, UK

Sex, drugs and wellbeing. Drug use among UK trans people

Thu, 24 February 2022, 17:15 – 18:15 GMT. This talk will discuss the current research around trans people and drugs in the UK. Using findings from his PhD, Matt will discuss the motivations and effects of drug use among trans people and how this may impact health and wellbeing. His talk will be followed by a discussion with Dr. Dean Connolly | Drugs and Me, UK

Leon Reid: Olympic sprinter sentenced on flat cocaine charges

A sprinter who represented Ireland in the Olympics has been given a suspended sentence for allowing his flat to be used to produce crack cocaine | BBC, UK


Internatonal news

Mexican army moves in on drug lord's home town

The Mexican army has taken control of the hometown of a powerful drug lord in the state of Michoacán, west Mexico | BBC, UK

Villawood, Australia’s largest immigration detention centre, said to be ‘awash with drugs’

A small cohort of guards is smuggling at least $10,000 worth of drugs into the centre every week, sources in Sydney facility claim | Guardian, UK

Record number of heroin users accessing help

The number of heroin users in drug treatment has reached record numbers, with almost 11,500 receiving substitute medication | Irish Examiner, Ireland

Nurse to be appointed to National Oversight Committee on Drugs after row over membership

A nurse with a background in addiction studies is expected to be appointed to the National Oversight Committee (NOC) on Drugs after initial criticism over the configuration of the group | Journal, Ireland

One in five Norwegian students in upper secondary school has used cannabis, new survey shows

20% of upper secondary school students in Norway say that they had used cannabis, but only just over 6% have used it in the past month, according to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Public Health (FHI) | Norway Today, Norway

First US drug injection center aims to lead way on overdoses

"This site saves lives," reads an inscription on the wall of America's first drug injection center in New York, which aims to serve as a model in a country blighted by record overdoses | Medical Xpress, USA

As fentanyl overdoses rise, so does use of 'party drug' test strips

"This is the time of fentanyl, a drug that's 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine. [The drug] tells our brain to stop breathing and then causes the heart to stop," said Van Asher, a harm reduction coordinator with Housing Works, a nonprofit social services organization based in New York City | Medical Xpress, USA

Examining the racist origins of United States drug policies

In his work as a pain management pharmacist, Dan Arendt has seen some of his patients stigmatized as "drug seekers" or blamed for their use of opioids rather than being acknowledged as a person who is suffering from a severely painful condition | Medical Xpress, USA

Research roundup: E-cigs aren’t safe

As a physician with the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, Dr. Laura E. Crotty Alexander has heard from more and more patients over recent years that they’re thinking of switching to vaping e-cigarettes as a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes | EurekAlert, USA

Effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy–Based Intervention in Preventing Gaming Disorder and Unspecified Internet Use Disorder in AdolescentsA Cluster Randomized Clinical Trial

In this cluster randomized clinical trial of 422 at-risk adolescents with gaming disorder and unspecified internet use disorder, the PROTECT (Professioneller Umgang mit technischen Medien [Professional Use of Technical Media]) intervention group had a significantly greater reduction in symptoms over 12 months compared with the assessment-only control group (39.8% vs 27.7%). Differences in incidence rates did not reach significance | JAMA Network open, USA

Once-taboo ketamine booms for US at-home mental care

Americans are paying to get a star of the psychedelic medicine movement—ketamine—shipped to them for at-home mental health treatments that are being called both a breakthrough and a gamble | Medical Xpress, USA

B.C.'s Interior Health issues urgent drug alert to prevent overdose

It says drug users should be aware that substances could contain up to 55 per cent fentanyl | Vancouver Sun, Canada

Health Canada says heroin is now a 'new' treatment option in Canada

Health Canada says it has legalized heroin as a treatment option for people with "severe opioid use disorder." | Vancouver is Awesome, Canada



Blogs, comment and opinion

Tribute to Rowdy Yates

Rowdy Yates died on 14th February 2022 surrounded by his family. He was a teacher, a researcher, a mentor, a musician, a role model, a leader, and a confidant. Rowdy spent his life, using his whole life experience and his learning, to help others. It was a big life, too big to give it justice on a page. We will all have our own memories and stories; some we were part of some we heard him tell | EFTC, UK

Supporting people bereaved through a drug- or alcohol-related death

The appalling increase in drug-related deaths is finally and rightly starting to get the attention it deserves. What is still largely missing though, is recognition of the typically severe, complex and long-lasting nature of the bereavements that people go through when losing a loved one in this way | DRNS blog, UK

Two glasses of wine might add more sugar to your diet than eating a doughnut

Soft drinks have been the focus of the UK government’s attempts to curb people’s sugar intake in recent years, but the same approach has not yet been applied to the sugar content in alcoholic drinks | Conversation, UK

Sober living houses – life worth living

Recovery journeys can be long and involve several attempts in order for people to resolve their problems. Treatment can be part of this for many, but there are multiple factors outside of treatment that also influence outcomes. One of these is housing | Recovery Review blog, UK

Damning all drugs is mind-bendingly dopey

[Free one month trial available] A system that treats all narcotics as equally harmful is anti-scientific and ignores the fact some have medical benefits | The Times opinion, UK

The Urge by Carl Erik Fisher review – against the war on drugs

A psychiatrist and former addict cautions against conflating drug use with harm in this fascinating historical survey | Guardian, UK

The impact of COVID-19 on alcohol consumption

At our institution [Beaumont Hospital, Dublin], we conducted an anonymous, cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey of all patients who presented to the emergency department over the period of a week in December 2020, relating to patterns of alcohol intake pre and post the introduction of social distancing measures | Irish Medical Association Journal, letter to the editor, Ireland

Lynn Ruane: A mature society accepts that drug use is normal and does not punish addiction

The independent senator says criminalising addiction is about intimidation – it’s society taking revenge and warning others of their fate | Journal, Ireland

Passive smoking, synthetic bedding and gas heating in homes show the strongest links to asthma

One in every nine people in Australia has asthma. It is a health burden for many children, and expensive for families because of medication, hospital and out-of-hospital expenses | Conversation, Australia

Why Victoria should review its response to drugs and decriminalise usage

The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the (alcohol) prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. Albert Einstein, 1921 | The Age opinion, Australia