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Weekly news - 6th May 2022

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In date order, Monday to Friday

Sara McGrail:  a tribute
It is with great sadness and deep shock that I report the sudden passing of Sara McGrail.  From her early days as a frontline drugs worker through to senior positions as a DAT Coordinator, the NTA and Turning Point and as an independent consultant (including for DrugScope) she was a passionate and tireless advocate for those with the most serious drug problems.

Hers was a fierce intellect which cut through bureaucratic bullshit and hypocrisy with whiplash intensity anchored to a forensic knowledge of the systems and procedures she criticised. She could be combative and feisty, but always in the service of the marginalised and disadvantaged.  Sara also had a way with words and as a small tribute to her legacy, here is a link to the articles she wrote for Druglink. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her and I am proud to call her my friend | Harry Shapiro, UK

Construction begins on Sittingbourne medicinal cannabis facility

Construction has begun on a medical cannabis manufacturing facility which will create more than 100 jobs | BBC, UK

Treatment target for people with problematic drug use

There are currently around 29,500 people using Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST). Under the new target, announced today by Drugs Policy Minister Angela Constance, the Scottish Government will aim to increase this to 32,000 by 1 April 2024. Almost 90% of all drug-related deaths in Scotland currently involve opiates | Scottish Government, UK

Approved Premises (Substance Testing) Bill - Second Reading

My Lords, it is a privilege to move the Second Reading of the Approved Premises (Substance Testing) Bill, which was introduced by my honourable friend Rob Butler MP in the other place. I am pleased that, to date, the Bill has had a successful passage and received support from all sides... | They work for you, UK

The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016: post-implementation review

This report presents the evidence and findings of a post-implementation review (PIR) for The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 | OHID, UK

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 Disclosure: 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

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

Walmart to stop selling cigarettes in some stores

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

Delivering a problem? Online sales and deliveries of alcohol

The charity Alcohol Change UK has warned that retailers are not doing enough to prevent children from getting hold of alcohol bought online. New research published today [30 March 2022] highlights major weaknesses in online age verification controls, and failures in checking age when delivering alcohol to people’s homes | Alcohol Change UK, UK

A question of choice

Mohammed Fessal looks at the evolving role of buprenorphine in medication-assisted treatment in the UK and how it has benefitted Change Grow Live’s service users | DDN, UK

Racial bias in jailing of drug offenders

[Free one month trial available] A Freedom of Information request by The Times found that 1,200 black people with no previous drug convictions were jailed for possession over the past five years. Nearly 700 of these were sentenced for possession of cannabis or other less-serious drugs | The Times, UK

EMCDDA releases new European miniguides on responding to drug use in specific settings

An important approach to the implementation of health and social responses to drug problems can be to focus interventions on the specific settings where problems may occur. For this reason, the EMCDDA’s Health and social responses to drug problems: a European guide includes a set of miniguides devoted to this topic | EMCDDA, Portugal

Mental health services failing people using alcohol and drugs

People who use drugs and alcohol are being denied proper support to deal with their mental health problems, The Ferret’s From the Margins team has found | The Ferret, UK

Isle of Man pharmacy to trial dispensing medicinal cannabis

People on the Isle of Man with private prescriptions for medicinal cannabis could soon be able to access the products through a local pharmacy | BBC, UK

Prevention toolkit — a new one-stop shop for EMCDDA prevention materials

The EMCDDA is launching today a new Prevention toolkit, bringing together all of its key prevention-related materials to date. Part of the agency’s toolkit series, this new resource is aimed at anyone involved in shaping decisions, opinions and policies in Europe in the science-based prevention of substance use | EMCDDA, Portugal

Local communities and drugs: health and social responses

This miniguide is one of a larger set, which together comprise Health and social responses to drug problems: a European guide 2021. It provides an overview of what to consider when planning or delivering health and social responses to drug-related problems in local communities, and reviews the available interventions and their effectiveness. It also considers implications for policy and practice | EMCDDA, Portugal

Drug-Related Deaths are at a Record High - We Must Now Take Collective Action

A public health emergency is occurring in England – each year thousands of people are dying from drug-related causes. Stigma, discrimination, disinvestment and the erosion of wider support systems have taken their toll on a group of people who are developing multiple health challenges as they get older. Over 4,500 people died in 2020, a truly intolerable statistic, and one that is likely to continue rising without swift and targeted action | NHS APA, UK

Minimum Unit Pricing: Qualitative Study of the Experiences of Homeless Drinkers, Street Drinkers and Service Providers (PDF)

Alcohol Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) was introduced in Scotland in May 2018. Existing evidence suggests MUP can reduce drinking in the general population, but there is little evidence regarding its impact on vulnerable groups. This qualitative study aimed to capture the experiences of MUP among homeless drinkers, street drinkers, and the support services that work with them | CSO, UK

Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families indicators 2022

There are 9 indicators and underlying measures used to track national progress in tackling the disadvantages that affect families and children’s outcomes, including indicator 4: Parental Drug and Alcohol Dependency | DWP, UK

Say bye bye to boozy buys – CMA warns about dangers of late-night shopping

A new poll of 2,000 UK adults has revealed that over half (54%) of late-night online shoppers said they had done so while drinking alcohol and more than 8 in 10 (86%) shopped while distracted watching TV, leaving them vulnerable to misleading sales tactics | CMA, UK

Join the Board of Collective Voice

Collective Voice is seeking to appoint three new independent trustees to join its board. As the national alliance of drug and alcohol treatment and recovery charities we work towards a vision in which a thriving treatment and recovery field – and voluntary sector – enable anyone in England to access evidence-based and person-centred support | Collective Voice, UK

Number of fentanyl-filled pills seized by US law enforcement up 4,850%

A study found that more than 2m counterfeit pills were confiscated in the last quarter of 2021 alone | Guardian, UK

Recreational settings and drugs: health and social responses

This miniguide is one of a larger set, which together comprise Health and social responses to drug problems: a European guide. It provides an overview of what to consider when planning or delivering health and social responses to drug-related problems in festivals, nightlife and other recreational settings, and reviews the available interventions and their effectiveness. It also considers implications for policy and practice | EMCDDA, Portugal

EMCDDA Best Practice Update

In this issue: drug consumption rooms – how to interpret the evidence | EMCDDA, Portugal

Spotlight on... Drug checking

[Updated] Drug-checking services provide individuals who use drugs with information on the chemical content of their drugs as well as advice and, sometimes, counselling or brief interventions. Service priorities vary and may include information collection, harm reduction and early warning | EMCDDA, Portugal