DDN Magazine June 2021 June 2021 | Page 5

DDN ONLINE All the news and views www . drinkanddrugsnews . com

Experts , MPs and peers call for drug law reform

One of the most important areas of social policy is still bound by legislation passed 50 years ago ,’ Transform chief executive James Nicholls told an All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform event to mark the 50th anniversary of the Misuse of Drugs Act .

‘ That ’ s a long time for any legislation to stay in place without amendment or reform . It ’ s not fit for purpose , and most obviously it ’ s failed dramatically to achieve its own aims .’
More than 50 MPs and peers have now signed a statement calling for reform of the act , alongside health specialists , charities , bereaved family members and former police officers . For half a century the act has ‘ failed to reduce drug consumption ’, it says . ‘ Instead it has increased harm , damaged public health and exacerbated social inequalities . According to data analysis by Transform , drug
deaths in England and Wales have risen by more than 7,000 per cent since the act came into force , from 38 to 2,883 , while heroin use has increased from less than 10,000 people to a quarter of a million .
‘ The Misuse of Drugs Act has been a disaster ,’ said Nicholls . ‘ In the 50 years since it was introduced , we have seen both use and deaths rise dramatically . The UK now has the
' In the 50 years since [ The Misuse of Drugs Act ] was introduced , we have seen both use and deaths rise dramatically ...'
highest drug deaths in Europe , and the situation continues to get worse . The government ’ s recent review of drug markets sets out this failure in detail , and confirms that it cannot be resolved simply through more policing . We need to start a debate now to finally break the deadlock .’
Statement at transformdrugs . org / mda-at-50 / parliamentary-support . See feature , page 6

A quarter of UK adults worried about post-lockdown drinking

Local News
REACHING OUT WDP is to deliver new substance misuse services to rough sleepers in the London boroughs of Camden and Islington , including specialist support for women and people with co-existing mental health issues . The new contracts will help the charity ‘ reach more people in need ’, said chair Yasmin Batliwala .
PREGNANCY PROGRAMME A scheme to support women who drink while pregnant has been launched in Bury , Bolton , Salford and Trafford by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust ’ s Achieve service . The Alcohol Exposed Pregnancy programme will provide information , guidance and practical support and treatment to women and their partners and carers .
ONE IN FOUR UK ADULTS are concerned about the potential impact of lockdown easing on their alcohol consumption , according to research by With You . A poll of 2,000 people found ‘ widespread concern ’ about falling back into old drinking habits or shaking off drinking patterns developed during lockdown . The same proportion also said they ’ d be reluctant or embarrassed to seek support for problematic alcohol use , while two thirds wouldn ’ t feel comfortable starting a conversation with a partner , friend or family member if they were worried about their drinking . This is despite one in ten respondents saying that they did have concerns about someone else ’ s drinking . The charity has also launched a new public awareness
new campaign to help people have ‘ more open , positive ’ conversations about alcohol . ‘ Find the Right Moment ’ includes a video about how to raise the issue of someone ’ s drinking and encourage them to seek appropriate help , as well as a campaign page with links to alcohol support locally or online . ‘ People are understandably worried about how and when to bring up the issue of a loved one ’ s drinking , fearing they could make things worse or be met with anger , but a non-judgemental conversation can make a big difference and be the first step in someone making positive changes ,’ said With You ’ s executive director of services for England , Jon Murray .
Deaths in England and Wales from alcohol-specific causes topped 7,400
last year , according to provisional data from ONS – almost 20 per cent higher than in 2019 and the highest since records began in 2001 . The final quarter of 2020 alone saw 1,963 alcohol-specific deaths , which at 13.6 per 100,000 people is the highest recorded in any single quarter . As in previous years , the death rate was far higher in areas of deprivation , with a male death rate more than four times as high in the most deprived local areas than the least deprived .
Quarterly alcohol-specific deaths in England and Wales : 2001 to 2019 registrations and quarter 1 to quarter 4 2020 provisional registrations at www . ons . gov . uk
Find the Right Moment at www . wearewithyou . org . uk / support-ourwork / find-right-moment
HELPING HAND Edinburgh-based homeless charity Rowan Alba is looking for volunteers to support its CARDS befriending service for isolated people with alcohol issues . ‘ The regular contact that volunteers provide can be both lifechanging and life-saving ,’ said volunteer Paul McCay . Details at rowanalba . org / volunteering-for-cards /