Novel Psychoactive Substances: bridging the knowledge gap

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Derek Tracy takes a first look at the Novel Psychoactive Substances in the UK Project; an NIHR-funded empirical and conceptual review that recommends research priorities in the field.

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Can MDMA and compassionate imagery therapy help increase self-compassion?

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Paul Christiansen reports on a small naturalistic experimental study of MDMA (Ecstasy) and compassionate imagery therapy to increase self-compassion and reduce self-criticism. He concludes that existing UK drug laws make this a challenging environment in which to create an evidence base.

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Cannabis use in young people linked with lower high school completion and degree attainment

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André Tomlin and Douglas Badenoch voice a note of caution about the Lancet Psychiatry meta-analysis of cannabis use in young people. The study links cannabis use in children with low educational attainment, cannabis dependence, illicit drug use and suicide attempts in later life.

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US policy on prescription drug abuse: tackling an unique and significant problem

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The fact that drug overdoses are the second largest cause of premature death from unintentional injuries in the US (for example, in 2010 there was 38,329 drug overdose deaths) is not a surprising statistic. What may surprise readers is that of these deaths 22,134 were attributed to prescription drugs. Indeed, almost one and a half [read the full story…]

Medical management of people who use illegal drugs: new report from the BMA

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There has been a great deal of debate about illicit drugs in recent weeks. Just before Christmas, we had the House Affairs Committee report, which highlighted the downward trend in recorded drug use over recent years. Earlier this week the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform published their report on legal highs, which recommended a [read the full story…]

New government alcohol strategy seeks to tackle binge drinking

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The government have published their new alcohol strategy for the United Kingdom. The last few years has seen a fall in the number of alcohol-related deaths in many other countries, but the UK has bucked this trend and has seen a rise in deaths from liver disease and an increase in hospital admissions related to [read the full story…]

NTA publish joint strategic needs assessment to help commission and plan local substance misuse recovery systems

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In April 2013, subject to the Health and Social Care Bill becoming law, local authorities will become responsible for commissioning drug treatment and recovery services. An effective approach to tackling substance misuse will require partnership working across local authorities, health bodies and criminal justice agencies. The object is not only for individuals to overcome dependency, [read the full story…]

Public-service announcements about illegal drugs may be doing more harm than good

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Campaigns in the media that encourage people not to take illicit drugs are now commonplace in the US, but a systematic review of the effectiveness of these interventions has not been conducted until now. A team of researchers from Vancouver in Canada have carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of 7 randomised controlled trials [read the full story…]

Moving towards evidence-based drug policy: new paper in the Lancet

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Evidence-based drug policy is a phrase you don’t read that often. Many searches for this phrase return articles that explore why we don’t have evidence-based policies for illicit drugs and why the evidence base is weak in this area. A group of international researchers and policy makers (including two UK-based professionals) are trying to buck [read the full story…]