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Daily news - 28th February 2022

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UK news

Number of rough sleepers reaches 8-year low

£800 million has been invested this year alone to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, with £2 billion committed over the next 3 years. This includes providing 6,000 long-term homes through the £433 million Rough Sleeping Accommodation Programme and up to £52 million for rehab and detox services for people with drug or alcohol issues | Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, UK

‘Society judges women more harshly for addiction’: Women locked out of ‘intimidating’ drug treatment services

‘I would take what I needed to get to that place of complete oblivion,’ says Lara | Independent, UK

Cannabis: Medical Treatments

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the Government's response to the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s report on Drugs Policy: Medicinal Cannabis, published in September 2019, what steps his Department has taken with the National Institute for Health Research to develop alternative research approaches to support children who are currently receiving cannabis-based products for medicinal use rather than randomised control trials, as set out in that response | They work for you, UK

Cannabis oil: ‘My son has no quality of life, this is our last hope,’ says mother of boy, 3, with rare epilepsy

A mother is fighting to get cannabis treatment for her son in a last-ditch attempt to give him a better quality of life after NHS drugs failed to work on his rare form of epilepsy | i news, UK

Can needle exchange services deliver chemsex harm reduction?

Chemsex isn’t a new phenomenon, but it is something that substance use treatment providers and policymakers are newly grappling with. Natalie Davies examines research recently published in Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy about whether mainstream needle exchange services are apt to deliver chemsex harm reduction | SSA, UK

Basildon Borough Council scraps tax freeze for anti-drug plan

A council has abandoned a promise to cut its part of council tax in favour of anti-drug dealing initiatives | BBC, UK

Janet Devlin: Alcoholism 'still incredibly taboo in NI'

"I spent every ounce of my being portraying this idea that everything was fine when behind the scenes I was broken," she told BBC News NI, ahead of a new documentary about her addiction | BBC, UK

‘Hard-partying bands are the outliers now’: how rock’n’roll broke up with booze and drugs

Musicians and their crew used to be notorious for their booze and drug consumption on tour. Now, however – partly thanks to the pandemic – there’s support for those who would rather try to stay sober | Guardian, UK

Army: Cocaine

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps were taken in response to six soldiers from 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment who reportedly tested positive for cocaine in May 2021 following their return from Kenya | They work for you, UK

Cocaine and crystal meth with a street value of £11m are seized

A haul of cocaine and crystal meth with an estimated street value of up to £11m has been uncovered by police | BBC, UK


International news

Big Tobacco, Big Avoidance: how subsidiaries can help the global tobacco industry avoid tax

Two new briefings based on research from the Investigative Desk for the University of Bath reveal the complex networks of subsidiaries that sit behind the financial accounts of two of the world's largest tobacco companies, Philip Morris International (PMI) and British American Tobacco (BAT) | University of Bath, UK

SSA notes: The Lancet Commission and the North American opioid crisis

Stanford University and The Lancet teamed up to summarise the causes of, and solutions to, the North American opioid crisis. The SSA website team picks out the bits you need to know, and discusses the relevance for UK settings | SSA, UK

Man held as 100,000 euro of drugs seized in Dublin

A man in his 30s was arrested on suspicion of drug-related offences | Independent, UK

Gardaí may be given heroin antidote to save lives

Frontline gardaí could be given medication to reverse heroin and methadone overdoses, cutting user deaths, under measures being examined by Garda HQ | Irish Examiner, Ireland

People with chronic pain want access to medical cannabis widened

A campaign has been launched to widen the criteria for medical use cannabis, as people with chronic pain say the current scheme is too restrictive | RTe, Ireland

Spotlight on… Drug consumption rooms

Drug consumption rooms, sometimes known as supervised injecting facilities, are fixed or mobile spaces in which people who inject drugs are provided with sterile injection equipment and can use illicit drugs under the supervision of trained staff | EMCDDA, Portugal

Russian Harm Reduction NGO Fights Foreign Agent Status – Interview with Alexei Lahov

The Charitable Fund Humanitarian Action in Saint Petersburg is fighting back against the crackdown on harm reduction organisations: a court recently annulled the government decision to include them in the infamous foreign agent list. We interviewed Alexei Lahov, Director of Development of the NGO | Drug Reporter, Hungary

European Parliament adopts report recognizing role of vaping in helping smokers quit

The European Parliament has adopted a special committee report that calls for stronger EU action on how to prevent cancer, with a provision on the role of e-cigarettes in helping smokers quit, making it the first chamber in the world to recognize tobacco harm reduction (THR) as a public health policy | News Inquirer, Phillipines

America's Alcohol Crisis Has Hit 'Rock Bottom'

Nearly one in five Americans drinks heavily. That's the takeaway from a new Harris poll, which defines "heavy drinking" as women having four or more drinks in a sitting, and men five or more, at least twice a week | IBTimes, USA

Bolstering COVID-19 vaccine uptake among injecting drug users

A study published in the Drug and Alcohol Review recommends a more tailored approach to improve vaccine uptake among people who inject drugs, following a survey showing around half were hesitant to receive the COVID-19 vaccine | Medical Xpress, USA

Johnson & Johnson and Distributors Finalize Landmark $26 Billion Opioid Settlement

Drugmaker Johnson & Johnson and three major distributors finalized nationwide settlements over their role in the opioid addiction crisis Friday, an announcement that clears the way for $26 billion to flow to nearly every state and local government in the U.S. | TIME, USA

Road to US opioid settlements has been long and complicated

The US opioid crisis has claimed more than 500,000 lives in the last 20 years. It has also spawned one of the most complex legal campaigns in the country's history | Medical Xpress, USA

A New Approach to Support Overdose Survivors: Buprenorphine at the Point of Engagement

In the years Pennsylvania has been earnestly battling the opioid overdose death epidemic, many ideas have been suggested or implemented for intervening with overdose survivors | RCPA, USA

MDMA Doesn't Actually Cause Comedowns, New Study Finds

Comedowns have long been thought of as an unavoidable result of MDMA use, but some recent research has brought this near-universally accepted truth into question. A Journal of Psychopharmacology study, titled “Debunking the myth of ‘Blue Mondays’”, sought to find out whether the comedowns associated with illicit use of the drug use also occurred when MDMA was taken in clinical settings | VICE, USA

How Will Oregon Teach and Train Psilocybin Healers?

In November 2020, Oregon voters approved a ballot initiative, Measure 109, to legalize psilocybin for therapeutic use. We’re now well into a two-year implementation phase | Filter Magazine, USA

Microdosing LSD: can it help or harm mental health?

Microdosing has become trendy in the era of drug legalization, with TV shows like "Nine Perfect Strangers" promoting the potential positives of regularly taking tiny amounts of psychedelics | Medical Xpress, USA

Penington Institute bulletin

March issue of the bulletin out now. This issue examines fentanyl from the Australian perspective, revisits the Take Home Naloxone Pilot, receives tips from our frontline colleagues on explaining NSP work to the general public and hears about Canada’s drug related successes and challenges | Penington Institute, Australia

‘Easy prey’: How state of WA took a man’s house over five cannabis plants

A 65-year-old man from Perth’s working-class suburbs faces losing the modest home that is his only retirement asset under Western Australia’s extreme and outdated ‘proceeds of crime’ confiscation laws | WA Today, Australia

ASH Year 10 Snapshot Survey

The ASH Year 10 Snapshot surveys 20,000-30,000 students every year on their smoking and vaping behaviour and attitudes.  It uses robust and validated measures.  It is conducted to a high methodological standard that has been subject to peer review and ethics approval | ASH, Australia



Blogs, comment and opinion

On Queerness & Drugs

The queer community and illicit drug users are inextricably linked: Both are subjected to similar politicisation of private practices, both are disproportionately aggravated by social harms, and are both fighting stigma and shame for the assurance of rights that should be fundamental. Drug use plays an outsized, if not wholly unsurprising part in the experience of the LGBTQ+ community today, for good and bad | Volteface, UK

Fighting for injection in Paris

The first time I ever saw a person shooting up was right behind Paris’s Gare du Nord railway station in 2015. He was crouched in front of the low concrete wall in the picture | Somatosphere, USA

Comments On the Practical Use of Spiritual Care

Spiritual care can be a clinical team member in the separate settings for physical health problems, psychiatric problems, or substance use disorders | Recovery Review blog, USA