National news from the substance misuse field

News in brief – June 2015


Support. Don’t Punish 

The Support. Don’t Punish campaign will be holding its third global day of action on 26 June, to coincide with the UN’s international day against drug abuse and illicit trafficking. The campaign aims to stage ‘high profile and visually symbolic local actions’ following similar events in 100 cities worldwide last year (DDN, July 2014, page 4). The day will be an ‘excellent opportunity to raise awareness’ before next year’s UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs, says the campaign. More information at


Hyper links

More than three drinks a day can increase the risk of developing hypertension by up to 75 per cent, according to a new document from Alcohol Concern. ‘Having just one drink a day can increase the risk, and the overall risk climbs higher for every drink after that,’ said chief executive Jackie Ballard. The relationship between alcohol and hypertension ‘stays significant’ even when issues like age, weight, gender, ethnicity, diet, exercise and smoking are taken into account, she added, making alcohol ‘one of the most controllable and preventable risk factors’ for the condition. Alcohol and hypertension at


Barton bows out

Action on Addiction chief executive Nick Barton is to step down in September after seven years in the post. He’ll be replaced by acting chief executive of Nacro, Graham Beech, but will continue to work with the organisation until the end of the year. ‘It has been an immense privilege and personally very rewarding to have been able to serve as chief executive of Action on Addiction, and I am delighted to be handing over to someone like Graham who brings such a range and depth of experience as well a personal and professional commitment to the charity’s ethos and purpose,’ he said.


DISC man

Chief executive of DISC (Developing Initiatives Supporting Communities), Mark Weeding, is to retire after 25 years with the organisation. His replacement will be northern director of the Lifeline Project, Paul Townsley. ‘Working in the sector I have always admired DISC and the chief executive role is a fantastic opportunity coming at an exciting time for DISC and myself,’ said Townsley. ‘Mark and his team have brought DISC to a great place.’


Favoured faces

The UK Recovery Walk charity has changed its name to FAVOR UK, which stands for Faces and Voices of Recovery. ‘We have grown in a way we could never have anticipated or imagined, and now have over 1,100 members made up of individuals in recovery, their friends and families, and community recovery organisations,’ said the charity, which was originally inspired by the work of FAVOR in the US.


Parental pints

More than 30 per cent of drinkers in the 45 to 64 age bracket drink to higher-risk or increasing-risk levels, according to research by Drinkaware, compared to less than 20 per cent of those aged 18 to 24. More than half of the older age group also said they didn’t want guidance on moderating their drinking, compared with just over a third of 18 to 24-year-olds. ‘In contrast to public perceptions that young adults are the more risky drinkers in the UK, in fact over the course of the week, their parents’ generation are drinking more,’ said chief executive Elaine Hindal. ‘Our research shows that 45 to 64-year-olds could potentially be sleepwalking into long-term health problems as a result of their drinking patterns.’


Prison practice

A new set of research and policy briefings on best practice in reducing drug and alcohol-related crime has been launched by RAPt. The papers include priorities for government action, as well as a focus on mental health and substance use in prison. Documents available at


Cutting costs

Offenders enrolled in alcohol treatment as part of their sentencing are less than half as likely to be reconvicted, according to a study by Plymouth University. The cost of community-based alcohol treatment is also nearly 40 times lower than sending someone to jail, it adds. ‘Given the hundreds if not thousands of offenders who might be eligible to attend an alcohol treatment programme each year, this could amount to substantial public savings,’ says the study.