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Daily news - 11th March 2022

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UK news

Hepatitis C in England and the UK

The number of people living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in England has fallen dramatically, by 37% since 2015, to 81,000 in 2020, with many of those drawn from marginalised and underserved groups in society, such as people who inject drugs. In this report, we present the latest data on HCV, review progress towards World Health Organization (WHO) elimination targets, and highlight the actions needed to reach them | UKHSA, UK

Print and online textual news media coverage of UK low-risk drinking guidelines from 2014 to 2017: A review and thematic analysis

[Open access] The UK low-risk drinking guidelines were revised in 2016. Drinkers were primarily informed about the guidelines via news media, but little is known about this coverage. This study investigated the scale and content of print and online textual news media coverage of drinking guidelines in England from February 2014 to October 2017 | Drug and Alcohol Review, UK

Alcohol Harm (Disadvantaged Communities)

To ask the Scottish Government what support it is providing to people at risk of alcohol harm in the most disadvantaged communities | They work for you, UK

It’s our birthday! 36 years of supporting Bristol

Today marks 36 years of BDP. That’s 36 years of supporting some of the most vulnerable members of our society. 36 years of pursuing evidence-based treatment methods. 36 years of challenging stigma where we see it. And 36 years of being available for YOU if you decide you want to make changes around your drug and/or alcohol use | BDP, UK

How the Albanian Mafia Controls Cocaine Supply in London

In our new All 4 show "Criminal Planet", we investigate the deadly alliance between Albania and Colombia's biggest coke clan | VICE, UK

Lorry passenger jailed for importing heroin through Dover

A smuggler who was stopped in Dover with 5kg of heroin with a street value of at least £238,000 has been jailed, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said | BBC, UK


International news

No party, no drugs? Use of stimulants, dissociative drugs, and GHB/GBL during the early COVID-19 pandemic [Germany]

[Open access] The COVID-19 pandemic is presumably having an impact on the consumption of psychoactive substances. Social distancing and lockdown measures may particularly affect the use of “party drugs” (e.g., stimulants, dissociatives, and GHB/GBL) through the absence of typical use settings. We aimed to analyse the use patterns of those substances and underlying motivations before and during the pandemic | IJDP, UK

International Narcotics Control Board warns of illicit financial flows undermining societies and link between exposure to social media and drug use

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) warns in its Annual Report 2021 that illicit financial flows generated from drug trafficking have a wide negative impact on society, diverting money from the economy, leading to social and political instability | INCB, Austria

Teens and young adults overdosing on drugs for common mental health issues

A high number of teens and young adults with an overdose involving a benzodiazepine (BZD), like Xanax, or psychostimulant, like Adderall—medications commonly used to treat mental health issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety disorders—have a recent medical prescription for a BZD or stimulant, according to Rutgers researchers who say physicians need to weigh the risks and benefits of these medications more closely | Medical Xpress, USA

Approximately 2.55 Million Students Reported Currently Using a Tobacco Product in 2021

The 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) was conducted among U.S. middle and high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic and revealed that youth tobacco use remains a serious public health concern. About 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students reported current (past 30-day) use of a tobacco product in 2021, according to new data released in today’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report | CDC, USA

News events and their relationship with US vape sales: an interrupted time series analysis

News coverage around vaping-related events may have furthered misconceptions regarding the relative harms of vapes. Such information may influence the decisions of individuals who smoke, around switching to vaping, potentially affecting the overall tobacco mortality burden | BMC Public Health, USA

Oregon Poison Center issues public health warning that opioids, counterfeit pills may contain deadly fentanyl

Local health experts are warning the public that pills meant to mimic oxycodone tablets may contain illicitly manufactured fentanyl or other harmful contaminants. These counterfeit pills may be difficult to distinguish from legitimate prescription drugs and are especially dangerous because of their unknown contents | Medical Xpress, USA

Modest progress on state laws to promote naloxone and syringe access

Amidst an intensifying overdose crisis that claimed over 100,000 lives last year, researchers at the Temple University Center for Public Health Law Research captured more than 20 years of naloxone access laws and two years of laws governing syringe service programs across all 50 states. According to the research, all states now have naloxone access laws, and a significant majority have laws that permit the operation of syringe service programs | Medical Xpress, USA

At a Growing Number of NYC Restaurants and Bars, Hospitality Includes Overdose Prevention Kits

Food spots throughout the city increasingly offer harm reduction tools like fentanyl test strips and naloxone at no cost to customers | Eater New York, USA

Federal government allows program to pay substance abusers for staying clean

A new legal opinion from the Biden administration appears to clear the way for wider use of an underutilized harm reduction technique: paying people addicted to drugs for staying clean | MSN, USA

Congress Slashes Proposed Funding for Overdose and HIV Prevention

On March 9, Congress released its proposed final appropriations package for fiscal year 2022. If approved, it will drastically reduce money that lawmakers proposed last year for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help prevent HIV/AIDS and overdose, as the United States endures the worst overdose crisis in its history | Filter Magazine, USA

New York Protest Tells Politicians to Stop Targeting Harm Reduction  

Harm reduction advocates and workers, including members of VOCAL-New York, converged at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal in Manhattan on March 9. Braving snow, rain, wind and freezing cold, they protested a slew of bills they say would lead to increased deaths and stigmatization among people who use drugs—urging several federal politicians to stop their efforts to defund harm reduction in New York and nationwide | Filter Magazine, USA

'Scum of the earth': Drug victims face Purdue Pharma owners

Angry, defiant and sometimes tearful, more than two dozen Americans whose lives were upended by the opioid crisis finally had their long-awaited chance Thursday to confront in court some members of the family they blame for fuelling it | CTV News, Canada

Client and Practitioner Experiences and Perceptions of Virtual Services and Supports for Substance Use or Concurrent Disorders During the COVID-19 Pandemic [report]

Report on a survey of people in Canada about their perceptions of and experiences with accessing virtual services for substance use through telemedicine, video conference and other apps. The report recommends actions for policy makers and providers of virtual services. The study was done in collaboration with the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, the Canadian Psychological Association and Canada Health Infoway | CCSA, Canada



Blogs, comment and opinion

We Need To Talk About Cannabis Dependency

Between the narrative that nothing natural could ever do us any real harm, and scaremongering ideas that – even if it doesn’t act as a gateway to the use of stronger substances – smoking cannabis will turn you into a lazy, paranoid and ultimately useless member of society, the space for nuanced interpretations is sadly lacking | Volteface, UK

Harm Reduction Approach to Tobacco Policy Needed

After nearly a year without a permanent leader, Dr. Robert Califf is gearing up to serve as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration. Though Califf is not new to the position given his time as head of the FDA under President Barack Obama, the agency he is returning to has drastically changed since he last held the position | Inside Sources, UK