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Cocaine purity at its highest in a decade
The purity of cocaine at
retail level has increased every year since 2009 , according to the latest European drug report from EMCDDA , while seizures of the drug are at an all-time high . More than 180 tonnes of cocaine were seized in 2018 , with the number of people entering treatment for cocaine for the first time increasing across 22 countries .
‘ The high purity of the drug , along with data from treatment services , emergency presentations and drug-induced deaths , suggest that cocaine is now playing a more important role in the European drug problem ,’ the agency states . Alongside cocaine , there are also ongoing concerns around highpotency cannabis and ecstasy pills containing high levels of MDMA . While COVID-19 has caused disruption to drug markets , there are fears that ‘ innovative drug distribution models developed
Hearts and minds
SCOTTISH ATTITUDES TO MUP have become ‘ more favourable over time ’, according to analysis by Public Health Scotland . Researchers looked at responses to the 2013 , 2015 and 2019 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey and found that the proportion in favour increase from 41.3 to 49.8 per cent . By 2019 respondents were almost twice as likely to be in favour of MUP as against ( 27.6 per cent ). ‘ One interpretation is that the public ’ s understanding of the policy and what it means for them has improved ,’ said public health intelligence advisor at the agency , Dr Karl Ferguson . ‘ A related possible explanation is that some concerns the public may have held prior to implementation have not been observed . For example , MUP did not increase prices across the board in the off- and on-trades , as it only directly influences the pricing of a minority of off-trade products .’ during lockdown , along with the economic impact of the pandemic on vulnerable communities , will add to the challenges already posed by an abundant supply of drugs ’. Although smuggling via passenger airlines has declined , trafficking via maritime shipping has continued at prepandemic levels , with customers and dealers also making increasing use of social media , the dark web and home delivery services to buy and sell drugs .
The volume of heroin seized in the EU almost doubled between 2017 and 2018 , to just under ten tonnes , with access to OST remaining limited in some countries . Overdoses among the 50-plus age group increased by 75 per cent between 2012 and 2018 , with an estimated 8,300 fatal overdoses in the EU in 2018 . An increasingly complex drug market has also seen more seizures of substances such as GHB , LSD and ketamine , with 53 NSPs also detected for the first time in 2019 . While many drug services were forced to close or provide a reduced service in the early days of lockdown , the sector had managed to successfully ‘ adapt and innovate ’ through use of online and mobile technology . ‘ As the economic repercussions of the crisis take effect , some in our communities may become more vulnerable to drug problems and drug market involvement , putting greater pressure on our already stretched services ,’ said EMCDDA director Alexis Goosdeel .
European drug report 2020 at https :// www . emcdda . europa . eu
Strong words for opioids
STRONGER WARNINGS will be provided to people who take over-the-counter drugs containing opioids for non-cancer pain , according to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency ( MHRA ). The agency is asking healthcare professionals to warn anyone taking or planning to take the medicines about the risk of dependence , as well as agree a treatment plan to minimise potential problems . New warnings will also be added to patient information leaflets ‘ making it clear that the medicine is an opioid , which can cause addiction , and that there can be withdrawal symptoms if people stop taking it suddenly ’.
‘ Patient safety is our highest priority and that is why we continually monitor the benefits and risks of opioid medicines ,’ said the agency ’ s director of vigilance and risk management of medicines , Sarah
The number of people entering treatment for cocaine for the first time increased across 22 countries .
‘ Patient safety is our highest priority .'
Branch . ‘ Last year , we announced that opioid-containing medicine packaging must carry warnings . Now we are strengthening those warnings to ensure that opioid medicines are supplied with consistent information on how to manage the risk of addiction .’
Leading the way Red Rose Recovery ’ s Emma Daggers has become patient representative and national lead for the recovery community at the Royal College of Psychiatrists . ‘ This is a brilliant opportunity for us all and I hope you all know how grateful I am for the continued support I have received from RRR and the encouragement and belief from partnership organisations ,’ she said .
Skilling up WDP has renewed its partnership with leading adult education college City Lit to offer service users a wide range of learning opportunities in return for Capital Card points . The collaboration will allow service users to ‘ learn new skills , develop their interests or take up a new hobby ,’ said WDP chair Yasmin Batliwala .
Challenging times Outside Edge Theatre Company has launched a crowdfunding campaign to meet a 40 per cent growth in demand for its services since lockdown . ‘ More people than ever are reaching out to us for help with acute feelings of loneliness , boredom and depression , which often trigger relapse ,’ it says . edgetc . org
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OCTOBER 2020 • DRINK AND DRUGS NEWS • 5