DDN February 2022 February 2022 - Page 5

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Strong case for peer-led needle exchange service

There is a strong case for a peer-led needle and syringe exchange service in London , according to a report from the London Joint Working Group on Substance Use and Hepatitis C ( LJWG ). The group has been working with Hackney Council to look into the feasibility of developing a peer-led and delivered NSP with added hep C awareness and testing facilities , using focus groups and interviews with specialists ( DDN , December / January , page 5 ).

Peers are able to use their lived experience of injecting drug use to deliver education and advice , says LJWG , with a peer-led service able to fully ‘ embed leadership ’. More than 40 per cent of people who inject drugs still report sharing equipment , with hepatitis C infection levels remaining high .
The report , which was funded by Hackney Council as part of project ADDER , looks at the feasibility and acceptability of a peer-led NSP , as well as practical considerations . It found a high level of support among peers , people who inject drugs and commissioners , with an initial threeto-five-year funding commitment able to provide stability for the new service . The facility would be welcoming and non-judgmental ,
PEOPLE ARE USING MORE CANNABIS since the COVID-19 pandemic , according to a survey of almost 50,000 people by EMCDDA . Cannabis and MDMA were the drugs most impacted by COVID-19 restrictions , it found , with use of ‘ party drug ’ MDMA unsurprisingly falling during the same period .
The European web survey on drugs ran during March and April 2021 when many countries were under lockdown restrictions , with responses from across 21 EU member states and Switzerland . The survey says the document , with people signposted to other essential services . Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms would need to be embedded , with peers delivering the service via clearly defined roles – both paid and unpaid – with training and supervision .
‘ There is clear support from people who inject drugs , people who work with people who inject drugs , commissioners and from public health specialists for an innovative , peer-based needle exchange service in London ,’ says the document . ‘ This will support important public health goals including reducing health inequalities , reducing harms from drug use , and reducing hepatitis C and other BBV transmissions . There are complexities in developing and delivering such a service , which would need to be designed and led by a cross- stakeholder steering committee which will include peers . Robust evaluation mechanisms

Europeans using more cannabis since pandemic

targeted adults who had used drugs , with the aim of understanding patterns of use – more than 90 per cent of respondents reported using cannabis during the previous 12 months , with 32 per cent saying they were now using more ( herbal ) cannabis . More than 40 per cent , however , said that they were using less MDMA / ecstasy .
Last summer harm reduction organisation The Loop warned clubbers and festival-goers to ‘ pace themselves ’ as venues started to re-open after lockdown restrictions ,
The facility would be welcoming and non-judgemental with people signposted to other essential services .
should be put in place so this service could become a blueprint for services across the UK and beyond .’ Scoping project – a peer-based needle exchange service in London at ljwg . org . uk
See feature , page 6
particularly as their tolerance may have reduced after a period of abstinence . There have also been reports of an MDMA ‘ drought ’ in the UK since lockdowns ended , with production falling due to lower demand and suppliers focusing on trafficking more lucrative drugs for which the criminal penalties are the same . While the European web survey data refer to a ‘ self-selected sample who have used at least one illicit drug in the 12 months prior to the survey ’ and are not representative of the general population , when ‘ carefully conducted and combined with traditional data-collection methods , they can help paint a more detailed , realistic and timely picture of drug use and drug markets ’, says EMCDDA .
Survey at www . emcdda . europa . eu
Local News
EARLY INTERVENTION A three-year project by With You will divert young people in possession of drugs away from the criminal justice system . Re-Frame will run in Cornwall , Kent , Lancashire in Sefton , and will be evaluated by the University of Kent as there remains a lack of robust evidence to understand what works in diversion projects . ‘ Re-Frame will help fill this gap ,’ says the organisation .
CAB CAMPAIGN A Glasgow taxi designed by SDF will promote overdose awareness and encourage people to carry naloxone as part of the ‘ How to Save a Life ’ campaign . ‘ We have been hugely encouraged by the positive reaction from drivers , many of whom have volunteered to carry naloxone kits in their taxis in case of an emergency ’ said SDF strategy coordinator Kirsten Horsburgh .
GOLD STANDARD Change Grow Live has been awarded the Investing in Volunteers Standard , which recognises the ‘ value that an organisation places on volunteering ’ based on areas like recruitment , training and support . There was a ‘ non-judgmental approach to recruitment and diversity in the roles offered ’, commented lead assessor Jane Holdsworth , with volunteers having a ‘ sense of inclusion and belonging ’.
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