News in brief

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Psychoactive survey

A consultation on new psychoactive substances has been launched by the National Assembly for Wales’ health and social care committee, looking at issues like awareness, legislation, service capacity, partnership working, data collection and international evidence. The committee is looking for submissions from both individuals and organisations and the consultation, which has been welcomed by the BMA, runs until 26 September. ‘Our members are increasingly seeing problems as a result of these substances,’ said BMA Welsh secretary Richard Lewis. ‘Health and education services need to have a consistent way of monitoring these changes as new products are coming out all of the time.’ Consultation at www.senedd.assemblywales.org

ACMD additions

Nine new members have been appointed to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, including DrugScope chief executive Marcus Roberts and professor of neuropharmacology at the University of Reading, Ben Whalley. ‘Their considerable experience and expertise will further strengthen our council,’ said ACMD chair Les Iversen.

Continental comparisons

A Europe-wide overview of the history and availability of residential provision in different national drug treatment systems has been published by EMCDDA. Among the areas looked at in Residential treatment for drug use in Europe are coverage, organisational structure and treatment components. Available at www.emcdda.europa.eu

A brief word

More than 100 people attended a training and networking event in Monmouth last month to promote ‘Have a Word’, the national alcohol brief intervention training programme for Wales. ‘The “Have a Word” training has enabled over 6,000 people in Wales to identify hazardous and harmful drinkers and provide advice to reduce alcohol-related harm,’ said the Kaleidoscope Project’s alcohol service team leader and training coordinator, Tom Damsell. ‘By working in collaboration with Public Health Wales to deliver the training and by putting on events like this, I hope that in a few years time alcohol brief intervention training will be commonplace and fewer and fewer problem drinkers will be slipping through the net into alcohol dependency. 

Sensitive subjects

A briefing to help ensure that pupils receive relevant alcohol and drug education in the context of cultural differences has been published by Mentor ADEPIS. Making it inclusive: alcohol and drug education in multicultural settings sets out the key requirements for ‘culturally sensitive’ teaching. Available at mentor-adepis.org

Stark statistics

Hospital admissions for hepatitis C-related end-stage liver disease rose to nearly 2,400 in 2012, up from just over 600 in 1998, according to new figures from Public Health England, with deaths rising from less than 100 to 428. The agency recently warned of a ‘liver cancer time bomb’ if levels of hep C treatment were not scaled up (DDN, July, page 5). ‘Despite the examples of good practice and the availability of effective treatments, we must accept that the rising hospital episodes and deaths, the poor diagnosis rate and the shockingly low level of treatment means we are failing patients,’ said Hepatitis C Trust chief executive Charles Gore. Hepatitis C in the UK: 2014 report at www.gov.uk

Benzo benchmarks

New guidance on benzodiazepines for primary care professionals has been produced by SMMGP. Written by Chris Ford and Fergus Law, Guidance for the use and reduction of misuse of benzodiazepines and other hypnotics and anxiolytics in general practice is available free at www.smmgp.org.uk

Orange updates

Public Health England is consulting on whether parts of the 2007 Drug misuse and dependence: UK guidelines on clinical management – known as the ‘orange book’ – should be updated in the light of the evolving evidence base and changes in the sector such as an ageing treatment population, fewer people using heroin and increasing use of new psychoactive and performance-enhancing substances. ‘An update would build upon the original version to reflect new evidence, issues and ways of working, as well as developments in the recovery orientation of drug treatment,’ says PHE. Have your say at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/drug-misuse-and-dependence-uk-guidelines-on-clinical-management until 30 September. 

Strange molecules

A new legal high information website has been launched by CRI. www.strangemolecules.org.uk is aimed at young people, their families and professionals, and named to ‘more accurately reflect’ the nature of the drugs –‘unsafe substances that can be even more dangerous than their often illicit counterparts’, says CRI.

Prison presumptions

A new report on the reasons behind the UK’s large prison population has been published by the British Academy. A presumption against imprisonment: social order and social values looks at ‘why we seem unable to reduce our reliance on imprisonment’ and includes strategies for cutting the number of prisoners. Available at www.britac.ac.uk