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Reports: January

New research shows £500m wasted each year in England on dependency-forming medicines

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence released new research on the 19th October which estimates that around half a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money is wasted each year in England on medicines that can cause dependency, including antidepressants, painkillers and sleeping pills | All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence, UK

Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999–2020

Deaths from drug overdose continue to contribute to overall mortality and the lowering of life expectancy in the United States. This report uses the most recent data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) to update statistics on deaths from drug overdose in the United States, showing rates by demographic group and by specific types of drugs involved (such as opioids or stimulants), with a focus on changes from 2019 to 2020 | CDC, USA

Drug Harms Assessment and Response Team (DHART) - Quarterly summary for professionals: December 2021

Latest evidence on the availability of and the harms associated with drugs, including key clinical messages | OHID, UK

No convincing scientific evidence that hangover cures work, according to new research

A new systematic review part-funded by the NIHR Maudsley BRC has found only very low-quality evidence that substances claiming to treat or prevent alcohol-induced hangover work | NIHR Maudsley BRC, UK

Regulating Right, Repairing Wrongs: Exploring Equity and Social Justice Initiatives within UK Cannabis Reform

This report proposes 14 guiding social equity principles which should be integrated in the UK’s future legally regulated cannabis market. This paper builds on Release’s national research on the disproportionate policing of ethnic minority individuals and other disadvantaged groups, and evaluates regulatory frameworks emerging in North America and beyond. It outlines an evidence-based roadmap to prioritise and protect those most vulnerable to the harms of prohibition in legal recreational markets, while still ensuring the benefits of cannabis legalisation and regulation for all | Release, UK

The regulation of e-cigarettes

The new European Union Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) entered into force on 19 May 2014. It introduced new regulatory controls on electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes)... The UK Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016implemented the TPD in full. This Commons Library Briefing Paper outlines the new product requirements for e-cigarettes and identifies where national regulations have gone beyond what is in the TPD | House of Commons Library, UK

Report: Substance misuse related deaths in the criminal justice system

The Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody (IAPDC) and the Royal College of General Practitioners Secure Environments Group (RCGP SEG) have highlighted the need for a whole-systems approach to tackle substance misuse in the criminal justice system – in order to prevent substance misuse-related deaths amongst prisoners and those released back into the community | IAPDC, UK

Making funding work for people facing multiple disadvantage (PDF)

This report explores the way in which national funding streams are made available to local areas to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping, substance misuse, mental health and criminal justice | MEAM, UK

Smoking costs society £17bn – £5bn more than previously estimated

New economic analysis of national data for ASH finds the cost of smoking to society is significantly higher than previous estimates have shown. Commissioned by charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) the new figures show the cost of smoking to society totals £17.04bn for England each year. This compares to £12.5bn under the previous estimate | ASH, UK

Scoping project: A peer-based needle exchange service in London (PDF)

With 43% of people who inject drugs reporting sharing needles or other unclean works in 2020, the overall level of hepatitis C transmission changing little in recent years, and infections amongst people who inject drugs increasing, there's a need for renewed investment and innovation in harm reduction services. Funded by Hackney Council as part of the central government ADDER Accelerator project, this report explores the feasibility, acceptability, and practical considerations of developing a peer-based needle exchange service. It draws on focus groups with people who use needle exchange services and peer support workers, interviews with experts from services and commissioning bodies, and international evidence | LJWG, UK

The use of out-of-court disposals and diversion at the ‘front end’

This report examines the effectiveness of out-of-court disposals and diversion programmes and considers whether there is scope to increase their use. Our research included analysis of the latest evidence and trends, an in-depth study in the Thames Valley Police force area and a nationally representative survey. We concluded that there is a strong case to be made for the expansion of out-of-court sanctions - building on pockets of good practice across England and Wales... | CREST Advisory, UK

The Drug Use in Higher Education in Ireland (DUHEI) Survey 2021: Main Findings (PDF)

The overall aim of the DUHEI Survey was to determine the prevalence and correlates of drug use among the student population in the Republic of Ireland, to inform future policy and practice in the area. The survey population included undergraduate and postgraduate students aged 18 years and over in publicly funded HEIs | University College Cork, Ireland

Empathy, Evidence, & Experience Learning from overseas to respond to street-based drug injecting in Dublin City Centre (PDF)

Using the case of the campaign to establish a Supervised Injecting Facility (SIF) and reduce harm for people who use illicit drugs in Dublin, Ireland, this paper makes three related contributions to contemporary literatures | Ana Liffey Project and Simon Fraser University, Ireland and Canada

Alcohol Consumption Among Men Declined During Pandemic; Men and Women Report More Alcohol-Related Problems

Alcohol consumption during the coronavirus pandemic declined among men, while it remained steady among women, according to a new RAND Corporation study | RAND Corporation, USA

The YouGov Big Survey on Drugs

YouGov has conducted an extensive study on drugs and drug use in the UK. The study investigates opinions, attitudes, and behaviours of Britons towards both prescription and recreational drugs | YouGov, UK

Reaching Out: Tobacco control and stop smoking services in local authorities in England, 2021

This report presents findings from the eighth annual ASH/CRUK survey of tobacco control leads in local authorities in England. It explores both the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and current efforts to reduce the inequalities that define the smoking epidemic in England | ASH, UK

Impacts of overdose: Evaluating the effects of grief and loss from overdose on people who inject drugs and developing an intervention to address them

Many people who inject drugs, and people who work in harm reduction services, are living with grief and loss stemming from the ongoing crisis of opioid-overdose related deaths. These experiences of loss can take a psychological toll, yet there are few bereavement services available for people with theses experiences | MAP, Canada

Substance misuse treatment for young people: statistics 2020 to 2021

Alcohol and drug treatment data for young people under 18, from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) | OHID, UK

Substance misuse treatment in secure settings: 2020 to 2021

Statistics for alcohol and drug misuse treatment in prisons and other secure settings from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) | OHID, UK

Statistics on Alcohol, England 2021

280 thousand estimated admissions to hospital in 2019/20 where the main reason was attributable to alcohol. 2% higher than 2018/19 and 8% higher than 2016/17 | NHS Digital, UK

Prescriptions for drugs to treat alcohol misuse at 167,000 in 2020/21

The number of prescriptions for drugs to treat alcohol misuse was 167,000 in 2020/21, according to newly published data from NHS Digital | NHS Digital, UK

National Wound Care Guide: An introduction to recognising and assessing common wounds and injecting injuries in people who inject drugs (PDF)

This resource aims to help people working within harm reduction and injection equipment provision (IEP) services, and anyone who works with people who inject drugs, to assess injection sites and identify potential complications arising from injecting street drugs | SDF, UK

Shooting Up: infections and other injecting-related harms among people who inject drugs in the UK, 2020 An update December 2021

This report describes the extent of infections and injecting-related harms among people who inject drugs (PWID) in the United Kingdom.


Some key messages: 1) Data indicate people who inject drugs have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with access to services severely limited. 2) Hepatitis C continues to be the most common infection among PWID in the UK. 3) Hepatitis B remains uncommon but vaccine uptake needs to be sustained, particularly in younger age groups and recent initiates to injecting where the uptake of vaccination is particularly low. 4) HIV infections and outbreaks continue to occur among PWID, although, HIV prevalence in this group remains comparatively low. 5) Cases of bacterial infections among PWID dropped in 2020, although this is thought to be due to limited hospital activity as a result of the pandemic. 6) The recent increase in the sharing and re-use of injecting equipment observed among PWID participating in bio-behavioural surveys is of concern. 7) Changes in psychoactive drug preferences could lead to riskier injecting practices, particularly the continued high levels of in injection of crack cocaine in England and Wales, and increase in injection of powdered cocaine in Scotland.  8) Rates of both fatal and non-fatal overdose are at an all-time high. This is in the context of improved availability of naloxone and increased self-reported carriage of take-home naloxone among PWID. | UKHSA, UK