Drink and Drugs News DDN September 2018 - Page 5

read the full stories, and more, online www.drinkanddrugsnews.com FOCUS ON PREVENTING DEATHS, URGES NEW SCOTS CAMPAIGN A NEW INITIATIVE launched at the Scottish Drugs Forum’s (SDF) annual conference is calling for a national focus on preventing drug deaths, and reinforces the message that ‘prevention is possible and we all have our parts to play’. #StopTheDeaths, which was timed to mark International Overdose Awareness Day on 31 August, wants to see all stakeholders make the agenda a priority and also offers a ‘message of hope’ – that ‘we can respond to record drug deaths by developing a world-leading response to this national challenge and aspire to eliminate drug overdose deaths’. The last three years have seen record drug deaths in Scotland, with 867 in 2016 – 23 per cent up on the year before, and almost double the figure from a decade ago (DDN, September 2017, page 4) – rising by a further 8 per cent to 934 in 2017 (DDN, July/August, page 4). The #StopTheDeaths initiative also focuses on drug-related fatalities that are not the result of an overdose, such as those caused by the health effects of chronic drug use. The campaign is aimed not just at policy makers and service providers, but people who use drugs and their families and communities. ‘From speaking to our members across Scotland, it is clear that the number of drug- related deaths continues to rise at what now seems an exponential rate,’ said SDF’s CEO David Liddell. ‘This means that in 2018 Scotland will almost certainly suffer over 1,000 preventable overdose deaths. #StopTheDeaths is a call to refocus our actions and to draw attention to evidence-based approaches and protective factors that can be deployed now.’ These included making sure people had fast access to, and were retained in, high quality treatment services, as well as provision of a wide range of therapies – including heroin- assisted treatment – and improved access to take-home naloxone. SDF is also launching a free e-learning course to coincide with the campaign, covering how to recognise an overdose and use naloxone to reverse it. ‘The good news is that drug deaths are being prevented every day in Scotland,’ Mr Liddell added. ‘However, we need a step change in terms of a co-ordinated approach and further innovation that can meet the scale of this challenge if we are to avoid the course we appear to be on. The Scottish Government’s new national drug strategy is an opportunity to show leadership, redirect the nation and decide to end this tragic situation.’ www.overdoseday.com Naloxone course at www.sdfworkforcedevelopment.org.uk CASH GIVE- AWAY The Home Office has issued a series of posters to alert landlords and letting agents to signs that a potential tenant might be involved in ‘county lines’ activity. These include offering to pay upfront for a long period in cash, being unable to provided references and renting an inexpensive property despite appearing ‘affluent’. Posters at www.gov.uk/government/publications/county-lines-posters-for- letting-agents-and-landlords www.drinkanddrugsnews.com ‘in 2018 scotland will almost certainly suffer over 1,000 preventable overdose deaths’ dAvid liddell GUIDELINE LOSSES DRINKERS consuming more than the govern - ment’s low-risk guideline of 14 units a week make up a quarter of the population but pro - vide 68 per cent of industry revenue, according a study by Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) and the University of Sheffield. If all drinkers stuck to the guidelines the industry would lose around £13bn, says How dependent is the alcohol industry on heavy drinking in England? ‘The government should recognise just how much the industry has to lose from effective alcohol policies, and be more wary of its attempts to derail meaning ful action through lobbying and offers of voluntary partnership,’ said lead author Aveek Bhattacharya. Study at onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/add. 14386 BLATANT USE DRUG TESTING suggested that a third of prisoners in HMP Birmingham are using illicit drugs, according to an inspectors’ report. The prison was made the subject of an ‘urgent notification’ to the justice secretary after an inspection in August, and a governor and management team from HM Prison Service have since taken over its running from G4S. ‘I have inspected many prisons where drugs are a problem, but nowhere else have I felt physically affected by the drugs in the atmosphere – an atmosphere in which it is clearly unsafe for prisoners and staff to live and work,’ chief inspector of prisons Peter Clarke wrote to justice secretary David Gauke. ‘Our own observations confirmed to us that the use and trafficking of illegal substances was blatant.’ Full inspection of: HMP Birmingham 30 July – 9 August 2018 at www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/ HCV DEATHS DOWN DEATHS FROM HEPATITIS C-related end-stage liver disease fell by 11 per cent last year compared to 2016, according to PHE. The fall, after a decade of continuous increases, is ‘most likely’ due to the growing use of new antiviral medications available on the NHS – these ‘have the potential to cure the condition in most cases’ and also have fewer side effects than previously used medications such as interferon. The number of people accessing treatment is also up by 19 per cent compared to the previous year, and by 125 per cent on pre-2015 levels. ‘The fall in deaths from hepatitis C related advanced liver disease in the last year suggests that more people are accessing new, potentially curative treatments and shows we’re making positives steps towards reaching our overall goal of elimination of hepatitis C as a major public health threat,’ said PHE consultant epidemiologist Dr Sema Mandal. Hepatitis C in the UK: 2018 report at www.gov.uk. See October’s DDN for an eight- page pull out on hepatitis C ALCOHOL AWARENESS CHANGE IS THE THEME of this year’s Alcohol Awareness Week, which runs from 19-25 November – ‘change is necessary, change is possible, change is happening’. For more information, visit www.alcoholconcern.org.uk/ alcohol-awareness-week. Meanwhile, minimum pricing has now become law in Wales after the Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act received Royal Assent. The act was approved by the country’s National Assembly earlier in the summer (DDN, July/August, page 4) with the minimum pricing regime expected to come into force in mid-2019. September 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 5