News in brief

Policy shift

The Obama administration has published its 2013 national drug control strategy, which includes a commitment to reform the country’s criminal justice system through alternatives to jail for non-violent drug offenders. Other key aims are to prevent drug use through education, expand access to treatment and ‘support Americans in recovery’. ‘There are no easy answers to the drug problem, but experience has shown us that by breaking down silos and collaborating across disciplines, we can make a real and lasting change,’ said director of national drug control policy Gil Kerlikowske.  

 Minority report

A new report on developing prevention services targeted at minority groups has been launched by EMCDDA. The study analyses interventions in nearly 30 European countries, and offers guidance on how to choose and adapt programmes and select the workforce implementing them. Drug prevention interventions targeting minority ethnic populations at

 Priority report

Public Health England has launched a document setting out its priorities for 2013-14, including to ‘improve recovery rates from drug dependency, recognising this as the core purpose of drug treatment’. The organisation ‘can and will make important progress in our first year by focusing on a small number of key actions with the greatest potential to make a difference to health and wellbeing in England,’ states the publication. Our priorities for 2013/14 at ment/organisations/public-health-england

 Radio waves

UK Recovery Radio (DDN, March, page 17) has recorded its first podcast, featuring interviews with people in recovery and professionals from across the addictions field. Listen at

 Bleak admission

One in 11 hospital admissions for liver disease in England resulted in a hospital death last year, compared to one in 72 admissions overall, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). Nearly half of all liver disease admissions are for alcoholic liver disease. Report at

 Cartels eye Europe

EU law enforcement agency Europol says that it has gathered intelligence that Mexican criminal gangs are ‘attempting to establish themselves as key players in the European drugs market’. Although moves by the Sinaloa cartel to establish themselves in Europe were averted by a ‘timely, intelligence-led law enforcement operation’, Mexican groups continue to expand their roles ‘along the supply chain towards Europe’ to increase profits, says the agency. ‘We do not want the level of violence and brutality which we see in Mexico mirrored in Europe,’ said agency director Rob Wainwright. 

 Heavy hitters

Research has been published by Sheffield Hallam University showing the impact of welfare reforms across the UK. The report provides information for every local authority district, with the worst affected areas facing losses of twice the national average. ‘As a general rule, the more deprived the local authority, the greater the financial hit,’ it says. Hitting the poorest places hardest at

 High impact

New psychoactive substances could ‘impact disproportionately on young people with difficult lives’ – such as those leaving local authority care or who have pre-existing mental health issues – in the same way as heroin, the Scottish Drugs Federation (SDF) has warned. It was vital not to simply focus on supply, stressed chief executive David Liddel. ‘We also need to look – as we should do with all drug use – at why people are using these new substances and the impact they have on individuals.’ This would help services to respond more effectively and inform approaches to prevention, he said. The forum has also developed a new set of information materials for Scotland’s community-based naloxone programme, including posters, leaflets and booklets. Available at

Ryan chair

Ryan Campbell has been appointed as chief executive of KCA (UK). Previously development director at RAPt, he is also chair of mental health charity Mind. KCA was ‘unique in being able to meet the needs of people of all ages who are experiencing substance misuse, mental health problems and other complex issues, in a passionate, outcome driven and human approach’, he said.