Drink and Drugs News December 2016 - Page 6

Review of the yeaR

InterestIng

As the old Chinese curse has it , ‘ may you live in interesting times ’… A truly seismic year for world events saw the triumph of populist policies , and politicians , across the globe – including one head of state elected after a campaign promise to eradicate drug users

JANUARY
As people are getting over their festive hangovers , the chief medical officer starts 2016 by revising the UK ’ s alcohol guidelines . The official recommenda tion is now that men should drink no more than 14 units per week , bringing the level in line with that for women and making the UK ’ s recommended consumption levels among the lowest in the world . An early day motion on the government ’ s Psychoactive Substances Bill , meanwhile , brands the document ‘ evidence-free and prejudice-rich ’.
MARCH
The bleak news continues as a report by the Recovery Partnership finds that nearly 60 per cent of residential services have reported a decrease in funding , along with almost 40 per cent of community services . The govern - ment , meanwhile , delays its beleag - uer ed Psychoactive Substances Act .
people first ’. The event ’ s outcome document , however , receives a decidedly lukewarm response – despite some welcome language on human rights and harm reduction , the need for consensus renders it ‘ watered down ’ and ‘ generally a huge disappointment ’, Transform ’ s Steve Rolles tells DDN . The seemingly unstoppable flow of new psychoactive substances continues in Europe , with EMCDDA now monitoring almost 600 of them – a sixth of which were reported for the first time in 2015 .
Bill ’ s chief architect , justice secretary Michael Gove , will be sacked the following month . MDMA , meanwhile , is once again European young people ’ s ‘ stimulant drug of choice ’, according to EMCDDA , with figures showing increased levels of use in nine out of 12 countries , along with stronger pills . The Psychoactive Substances Act , meanwhile , finally limps into UK law .
JUNE
FEBRUARY
The ninth annual service user conference in Birmingham sees powerful presentations , heated debate and a rousing closing speech from Big Issue founder John Bird . ‘ The skills you used to score and beg – use them .’ he told delegates . ‘ Don ’ t let anyone tell you that you don ’ t have valuable skills !’ As austerity policies continue to bite , a survey of directors of public health finds that 70 per cent of them expect drug and alcohol services in their area to face cuts .
APRIL
The UN convenes its first special session of the General Assembly ( UNGASS ) on drugs since 1998 , with UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov telling the session that the world needs drug policies that ‘ put
MAY
In one of the grimmest developments yet in the ‘ war on drugs ’, Rodrigo Duterte is elected president of the Philippines , vowing to eradicate crime in the country in six months – a plan , he says , that would see him ‘ fatten the fishes ’ in Manila bay on the bodies of dead criminals , drug dealers and drug users . Closer to home , the Queen ’ s Speech contains major reforms to the UK ’ s struggling prison system – ‘ the biggest shake-up ’ since the Victorian era , says the government – although the Prison
As the UK ’ s Brexit vote sends shock - waves through the world , consensus on the country ’ s drug legislation continues to shift as a report by the two major public health bodies calls for personal possession of all illegal substances to be decriminalised . A Times editorial on the document goes further , stating that full legalisation should ‘ still be the ultimate goal ’. Alcohol-related hospital admissions continue their upward curve , and the idea that problems in the prison service are ‘ all down to NPS and over - crowding ’ is naïve , former gover n or of Brixton and Belmarsh , John Podmore , tells DDN . ‘ It ’ s looking for a quick fix , and there is no quick fix in this .’
6 | drinkanddrugsnews | December 2016 www . drinkanddrugsnews . com
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