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Daily news - 29th March 2022

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UK news

Drugs minister ‘deeply sorry’ for those ‘let down’ by addiction services

Scotland’s Minister for Drugs Policy has admitted people are still being “let down” by addiction services and said she is “deeply sorry” for those who have not had the right help to address issues with alcohol and drugs | The Ferret, UK

BBC One Disclosire: From the Margins - video

Scotland is in the grip of a crisis of addiction, homelessness and poverty – a country where the poorest can expect to die around a decade younger than the most affluent. In a unique collaboration, BBC Scotland joins with investigative website The Ferret to work with citizen journalists who themselves have experiences with addiction, and asks what can be done to bring people back in from the margins | BBC, UK

Jamie Greene: 'Alcohol death rate is Scotland's national shame'

Just hours after Jamie Greene stood in for his boss, Douglas Ross, and for the first time led the Scottish Conservatives’ charge at First Minister’s Questions, the West of Scotland MSP sat in his cubby-hole office in the Scottish Parliament and reflected on a life scarred by alcoholism, domestic abuse and trauma – and wondered how he ever came to this place | Holyrood, UK

One Year On: Access to medical cannabis for patients in Scotland

The 22nd March 2022 marks the one year anniversary of the opening of Scotland’s first and only medical cannabis clinic – Sapphire Medical Clinics. Based in Stirling (but seeing patients remotely across Scotland), this landmark treatment centre has helped over a thousand patients in the first year of operation | Sapphire Medical, UK

Stories of lived experience: Kamil’s story

Phoenix Futures is sharing stories of lived experience of some of the people who have accessed its residential services. This is Kamil’s story | DDN, UK

'There's no better feeling': Wrexham man overcomes drug addiction and homelessness to help others

'It's the rewarding feeling that you get, seeing someone change their life' Nathan is now in recovery, with help from the North Wales Recovery Communities charity in Bangor and its partnership with the social justice charity Nacro | ITV, UK

Cancer patient grew cannabis 'for medicinal use' after prescription delayed

Terrence Edwards planned to extract cannabis oil to treat PTSD and cancer symptoms | Lancs Live, UK

Drug cartel boss ran £30m smuggling operation from bullet-proof Staffordshire mansion

[Limited number of free articles per month] Thomas Kavanagh, aka 'Bomber', described as 'main man' of UK arm of Kinahan crime group, an Irish criminal network involved in drugs supply | Telegraph, UK

West Midlands trio jailed over drug smuggling operation

Three men have been jailed for their part in a drugs smuggling operation - bringing them into the UK inside machinery | BBC, UK

Hakeem Hussain: Manslaughter-accused mother 'prioritised drugs'

A mother "prioritised" her drug addiction prior to the "preventable" death of her seven-year-old son, a court has heard | BBC, UK



International news

The links of stress, substance use and socio-demographic factors with domestic violence during the Covid-19 pandemic in Portugal

[Open access] Lockdown, as a measure implemented to combat the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, left many domestic violence (DV) victims trapped with their abusers. This study intends to explore the links between perceived stress, substance use and socio-demographic factors with DV experiences during COVID-19 pandemic in Portugal | Journal of Public Health, UK

Walmart to stop selling cigarettes in some stores

Tobacco sales subject of years-long internal debate at retail giant | Independent, UK

Can magic mushrooms be used to treat racial trauma?

Practitioners are turning to psychedelics to help people experiencing race-based traumatic stress despite legal and institutional hurdles | Guardian, UK

Hair drug testing — an innovative method for monitoring drug use

Hair drug testing involves collecting hair samples from individuals and analysing them for traces of substances which may have been recently consumed. Although the method cannot assess the level of consumption, it can provide a temporal overview of substances used. Hair drug testing can be used in combination with surveys to validate self-reported information | EMCDDA, Portugal

Women in the cocaine supply chain, Cocaine Insights 3 (PDF)

At the production stage, the most common roles for women are those of coca growers and coca pickers. In international trafficking, women usually participate as “drug mules”. And in national-level drug distribution, women are often involved in smuggling drugs into prisons and in street-level drug dealing. At each stage, roles carried out by women can vary from supporting to managerial, with low-ranking positions prevailing | UNODC, Austria

Public Health Catastrophe Looms in Ukraine, Experts Warn

[Limited number of free articles per month] Even before the war, the country struggled with epidemics of H.I.V., tuberculosis and hepatitis. The conflict threatens to undo decades of progress | NYTimes, USA

Walmart to stop tobacco sales in some U.S. stores

Walmart Inc (WMT.N) will stop sales of tobacco products in some of its more than 5,000 stores across the United States, the world's largest retailer said on Monday | Reuters, USA

12-step mutual-help experiences in people taking opioid use disorder medications

12-step mutual-help organizations are the most available and easily accessible recovery support services across the United States. While there is strong scientific evidence supporting the benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous and related 12-step treatments for alcohol use disorder, and additional evidence for cocaine and methamphetamine, less is known regarding opioid use disorder | Recovery Research Institute, USA

A deeper dive into recovery residences: Who’s most likely to use them and how do they affect engagement with outpatient care

Recovery residences, sometimes referred to as sober homes or halfway houses, are critical recovery support services shown to improve substance use outcomes. Greater understanding of how recovery residences link people to other substance use disorder services can inform public health recommendations and recovery residence standards. In this study, researchers assessed differences between people who do and do not use recovery housing, and recovery residence participation influences outpatient treatment retention | Recovery Research Institute, USA

Stage Set for US House to Vote on Cannabis Legalization This Week

With a vote on a bill to federally legalize marijuana set for House floor consideration this week, lawmakers released a report on the legislation on March 24 that effectively previews the partisan debate to come, with the majority and minority leaders of a key committee making their arguments for and against the reform | Filter Magazine, USA

Schaeffer Expert Warns of Lax Regulation of U.S. Cannabis Market at U.N. Event

Buoyed by positive polling, cannabis may soon be legal at the federal level as policymakers discuss bipartisan approaches to legalization. Already legal in 20 U.S. states, many other states are poised to expand the cannabis industry’s commercial operations | USC Schaeffer, USA

Is It OK to Use Cannabis During Pregnancy and while Breastfeeding? [poster]

Explains how cannabis use during pregnancy and breastfeeding can affect a developing fetus and infant. Key points include: the effects of cannabis can be passed onto the fetus through the placenta or onto the baby through breastmilk, exposure to cannabis can impact the baby’s mental and physical development, and there is not enough evidence to support using cannabis to treat morning sickness nor pain. Anyone trying to conceive, or who is pregnant or breastfeeding will find this resource helpful for making informed decisions | CCSA, Canada

Banning public smoking indoors in the Philippines: could it help 16 million people kick the habit?

A bill to ban almost all public smoking indoors is currently before Congress in the Philippines, where 110,000 people die from smoking-related diseases each year | This week in Asia, The Phillipines



Blogs, comment and opinion

Extending a lifeline to people with HIV and opioid use disorder during the war in Ukraine

Oleksander navigates a bomb-shelled northern Ukrainian city between air raid sirens. He is on his way to the clinic to collect methadone for his opioid use disorder—a trip he has made regularly since 2016. However, this time the situation is quite different | Lancet viewpoint, UK

In memoriam: Dr Richard Saitz

Dr Richard Saitz, a long-time collaborator with many people at Addiction journal and the SSA sadly died in January 2022. Stefan Kertesz, Daniel Alford and Jeffrey Samet remember Richard as their colleague, mentor and friend | SSA, UK

Still ‘Insufficient Evidence’ for the NHS to Fund Medicinal Cannabis – or What’s it Really About?

The laboratory evidence for medicinal cannabis is through the roof in proof of efficacy and safety. The observational clinical evidence is also conclusive | Peter Reynolds, UK

John Oliver says fentanyl is dangerous but not 'smallpox,' and we should help drug users live, not die

"Our main story tonight concerns drugs," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, showing and laughing at an anti-drug PSA. "But despite those very compelling arguments, millions upon millions of Americans still use illicit drugs, and it is easy to see why: Drugs can be a lot of fun | The Week, USA

The Women Leading in Recovery

As all of us at SMART Recovery celebrate Women’s History Month, it’s a wonderful opportunity to highlight the amazing leadership and accomplishments of so many talented and dedicated women in the addiction sciences, treatment, STEM, and public policy fields | SMART Recovery blog, USA