News in brief

Cocaine cutting agents

More than 50 different cutting agents have been identified in cocaine, including some that can cause ‘serious medical harm’, according to an ACMD evidence review. ACMD initiated the review because of concerns over ‘increased consumption and a perception that the drug is “safe”,’ it says.

Evidence is best

Evidence-based practices are the best means of preventing and treating drug misuse, said UNODC chief executive Yury Fedotov in his closing message to the 58th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna. Harm Reduction International (HRI) used the event to launch its ’10 by 20’ campaign, which wants to see governments redirect 10 per cent of the money they spend on the ‘war on drugs’ to harm reduction by 2020.

Government looks to ‘general ban’ on NPS

The government is ‘developing plans’ for a general ban on the supply of new psychoactive substances across the country, according to crime prevention minister Lynne Featherstone. The announcement was made as the Home Office outlawed two more substances – synthetic opiod MT-45 and stimulant compound 4,4’-DMAR – as class A drugs.

Social worker guide

The first national guide for social workers on working with people experiencing drug and alcohol problems has been launched by Manchester Metropolitan University, the British Association of Social Workers and the College of Social Work. ‘Social workers specialising in adult and children’s social work practice are working regularly with people with substance problems, be it alcohol, other drugs or a combination of both,’ said the guide’s author Sarah Galvani. ‘As a profession we’ve not equipped them adequately for this work. They need clarity about what their role and remit is and how their supervisors and managers can support them.’ Alcohol and other drug use: the roles and capabilities of social workers available at

Funding fears

The areas with the highest levels of alcohol-related harm – often those with high levels of social deprivation – are also the most likely to be reducing funding for alcohol treatment, according to Alcohol Concern. Its Measures of change report looks at how the transfer of public health responsibility to local authorities has affected alcohol services. ‘Only 6.5 per cent of dependent drinkers access treatment in the UK which means that both treatment and prevention services need to be given clear prioritisation and investment, by all responsible agencies including clinical commissioning groups,’ said head of policy Tom Smith. Report at

Bereavement training

The pilot round of training for Adfam and Cruse’s drug and alcohol-related bereavement project is now open, the organisations have announced. Anyone who has been bereaved as a result of drugs or alcohol and would like to offer peer support to others going through the same thing is invited to get in touch, with initial training taking just two days. Details at

Online help

CRI has joined forces with digital healthcare provider Breaking Free for Breaking Free Online, an evidence-based internet treatment and recovery programme which covers nearly 40 substances. CRI can now ‘offer all its service users 24/7 access to confidential treatment and recovery support via the internet every day of the year’, says the organisation. ‘I’m very excited to see CRI embracing technology-enhanced recovery,’ said new technologies lead Michael Lawrence. ‘It is a comprehensive and adaptable tool that includes a range of evidence-based psychosocial interventions.’

Three drink risk

There is ‘strong evidence’ that just three or more alcoholic drinks a day can cause liver cancer, according to a report from the World Cancer Research Fund, which analysed 34 previous studies covering more than 8m people. ‘Until now we were uncertain about the amount of alcohol likely to lead to liver cancer,’ said fund director Amanda McLean. ‘But the research reviewed in this report is strong enough, for the first time, to be more specific about this.’ Diet, nutrition, physical activity and liver cancer at

Prison problems

High levels of violence in a prison deemed ‘in crisis’ by inspectors are being driven by ‘the supply of drugs, particularly synthetic cannabinoids such as “Spice’’,’ according to a report on HMP Guys Marsh in Dorset. ‘I was told by prisoners and staff that they suspected gangs were threatening some prisoners to request a move to a different part of the prison so that they could then be forced to act as distribution points for drugs,’ said chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick. Use of new psychoactive substances is now seen as one the biggest problems facing the prison estate (DDN, February, page 6).

Stop strips

Release and stop and search campaigners StopWatch are urging the Home Office to make sure strip searches are only allowed as part of a stop and search when the ‘threshold of arrest’ has been met. ‘The use of strip search as part of a stop and search is an extremely intrusive power, often linked to the search for simple possession of drugs,’ said Release executive director Niamh Eastwood. Last month saw the launch of a comprehensive Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) review into the use of stop and search.

 Naloxone knowledge

A new information resource for naloxone campaigners, policy makers and service providers has been launched by the Naloxone Action Group (NAG). A range of useful documents on extending the use of naloxone in the community can now be found at


Stronger together

Substance misuse support organisation Aquarius has entered a formal partnership with the Richmond Fellowship mental health charity to strengthen services for people with mental health and substance problems, the organisations have announced. ‘Collectively we’re all passionate about being socially inclusive, person-centred and recovery focused,’ said Richmond Fellowship chief executive Derek Caren. Meanwhile, Action on Addiction has merged with COAP (Children of Addicted Parents and People). ‘We are delighted to welcome COAP to the Action on Addiction fold,’ said chief executive Nick Barton.