News in brief

Gambling on health.

There is a ‘great deal in common’ between alcohol and gambling problems, as well as the way they can be treated and prevented, according to a report from Alcohol Concern Cymru and the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPysch) in Wales. ‘Whilst fewer people suffer gambling problems than they do with alcohol, such problems can destroy their lives and their families,’ said chair of RCPysch’s Faculty of Addictions, Dr Raman Sahkuja. ‘It is vital that access to appropriate advice and treatment is available and well-funded, especially when considering that often people with alcohol problems participate in unhealthy gambling, and vice versa.’ 

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Public health practicalities

A new briefing on the imminent public health reforms and the implications for treatment services has been produced by DrugScope, including suggestions on how to engage with the new public health structures and decision makers. 

Available at


Maternal recognition

Phoenix Futures has launched a Mother’s Day campaign highlighting the role mothers can play in a person’s recovery, with almost half of the organisation’s service users citing their mother as their main support. ‘We know from evidence and experience that mums play a vital role in the recovery process,’ said chief executive Karen Biggs. ‘The personal cost to those mums is considerable and the reality of the world is that mums for various reasons often don’t ask for help.’


SAMS support

Treatment charity Foundation66 is launching a new volunteer peer mentoring service in Essex next month. The Support Advice and Mentoring Service (SAMS) has been commissioned by Essex County Council’s DAAT. ‘Matching people with a mentor who can identify with their particular situations and long-term goals can have an extraordinary effect on lives,’ said interim chief executive Jakki Moxham. 


Clinical claims

A guide to the contribution of clinical psychologists to ‘effective recovery-orientated drug and alcohol treatment systems’ has been issued by the British Psychological Society, aimed at service commissioners. Available at


Training of substance

Understanding drug and alcohol use should be a key part of social work practice and professional development, according to a new Adfam report. Parental substance use: through the eyes of the worker calls for compulsory pre-qualification training in substance issues for all social workers, and warns that local authority budget cuts are risking child protection. ‘We know there are hundreds of thousands of children whose parents have a serious drug problem and yet in many ways we continue to skirt around the issue instead of tackling it head on,’ said chief executive Vivienne Evans. Available at See April’s DDN for a profile of the chair of the British Association of Social Workers special interest group on alcohol and other drugs, Dr Sarah Galvani.


Transforming opinions

More than half of the British public support either the legalisation of cannabis or decriminalising its possession, according to an Ipsos MORI poll for Transform, with around two thirds also supporting an independent review of ‘all of the possible policy options’ for controlling drugs. ‘These results show just how far ahead of politicians the public are,’ said the organisation. ‘Whilst Labour and Conservative politicians shy away from the debate on drugs, around half of their supporters want to see legal regulation of cannabis production and supply or decriminalisation of cannabis possession, and a significant majority want a comprehensive review of our approach to drugs,’ 


TOP tips

The NTA has refreshed the TOP website to make it more accessible, and added resources including a Getting better outcomes slide pack and a plain English document on how to use TOP to ‘enhance keyworking and improve outcomes’.


HIV help

Improvements can be made to the range and quality of services for injecting drug users in relation to HIV risk, according to a report from the National Aids Trust. Around one in 250 people in the UK who inject drugs is living with HIV, rising to one in 111 in London. Injecting drug users and HIV explains the epidemiology and sets out key policy issues. Available at