DDN May2021 May 2021 - Page 4


Drug control a health and human rights ‘ disaster ’, says IDPC

The global drug control regime represents ‘ a shocking health and human rights disaster ’ according to a report from the International Drug Policy Consortium ( IDPC ) to mark the 60th anniversary of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs . Around 2.5m people are in prison for drugs offences , at least 475,000 of which relate to personal use only , while the annual drug-related death toll now stands at 585,000 . Only one in eight people with drug dependence has access to treatment , the document states , while billions have limited or zero access to pain relief ‘ due to repressive drug laws ’.

While the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs represents ‘ the legal foundation ’ of international drug control , last month was also the fifth anniversary of the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session ( UNGASS ) on drugs , which saw countries commit to a ‘ public health , rights-based ’ approach to drug policy ( DDN , May 2016 , page 4 ). Comparing these commitments with evidence on the ground reveals ‘ a widening gap between rhetoric and reality ,’ says IDPC . Enforcement of drug laws continues to disproportionately affect women and ethnic minority groups , fuelling poverty and inequality , the report says , and calls for a full review of drug laws and policies to ‘ remove all punishments for drug use and possession for personal use ’ and ensure proportionate sentencing

Countrywide homeless outreach launched

EIGHTEEN NEW HOMELESSNESS OUTREACH SERVICES , employing 130 staff , have been launched across England by Change Grow Live . Alongside access to drug and alcohol treatment , the specialist teams will offer wrap-around holistic support including wider mental and physical health , as well as help with housing and benefits . The teams will provide street interventions for people sleeping rough – with no requirements to attend appointments – in locations across London and throughout the country . People will be able to access support straight away with no need to wait for referrals from a third party , says the charity .
The services represents a ‘ landmark moment ’, said Change Grow Live ’ s national homelessness lead , Lesley Howard . ‘ Each service will help us to provide effective , evidence-based support for people struggling with homelessness and substance misuse .’ The project was the ‘ first fully wrap-around offer I have seen for homeless people ,’ added national lived experience volunteer Tony Lee . ‘ As a person who was homeless for 12 years in London , I can also say that the impact an approach like this will have will be life changing . Homeless people will be engaged in their own environment and not asked to come into an office or building . Just this alone will increase the engagement tremendously and better engagement means better outcomes .’
and ‘ meaningful ’ alternatives to incarceration .
‘ The 60th anniversary of the global drug regime gives us little cause for celebration ’ said IDPC executive director Ann Fordham . ‘ In the past five years , some progress has been made , as countries moved to adopt welcome initiatives on the decriminalisation of people who use drugs , and the legal regulation of cannabis . However , in most parts of the world , governments remain wedded to draconian policies that have had a catastrophic impact on communities , and have resoundingly failed in their stated purpose of eradicating drug markets , or reducing illegal drug use .’
Taking stock of half a decade of drug policy – an evaluation of UNGASS implementation at idpc . net
‘ Each service will help us to provide effective , evidencebased support for people struggling with homelessness and substance misuse .'
' In most parts of the world , governments remain wedded to draconian policies .'

Half of Scots drinking more

A SURVEY BY WITH YOU has revealed the ‘ huge impact ’ of COVID-19 on alcohol consumption in Scotland , with 49 per cent of respondents saying the pandemic has led to them drinking more . The survey of almost 5,400 people also found that 30 per cent were consuming ten or more units ‘ on a typical drinking day ’, with the same proportion reporting using alcohol to deal with stress and anxiety . Researchers found that more than a quarter of respondents ’ drinking fell into the increasing risk , higher risk or possible dependence categories , with a third reporting concerns about their drinking during lockdown . The size of the survey ‘ provides a thorough snapshot ’ of current drinking levels , says the charity , with respondents given a score based on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test . Almost 95 per cent of those who responded said they ’ d never accessed support for their drinking .
With You has also launched a new search engine for people to find information about needle and syringe services in their area . Accessible via the organisation ’ s website , the tool provides full details of local NSPs sorted by postcode . www . wearewithyou . org . uk / needle-syringeservices /