SNIPPETS July 2005

Parents give support to school’s plans to introduce random drug testingColne Community School, in Brightlingsea, could now bring in the scheme in September after questionnaires were sent to parents last month. Principal Terry Creissen said more than 90 per cent of parents who responded were in favour of the proposed scheme, which would cost about £10,000 a year to run, with funding planned through sponsorship. Governors will make a final decision about whether to give the go-ahead later this month and, if so, the first drugs tests will be taken in September. Students will also be surveyed about the issue. [East Anglican Daily Times, 23 June]


Children at playschool in Austria are having their toys taken away

Children at playschool in Austria are having their toys taken away in the belief it will help them fight drug addiction and alcoholism later in life. Pilot tests have shown that taking away children’s toys encourages them to think more about how to entertain themselves. They become more social and even those on the outside of the group find a positive role. The campaign comes after recent studies in Austria found more and more children are growing up in families in which one or both parents drink too much alcohol and the number of teenagers developing problems with alcohol and drugs is growing. [Ananova, 24 June]

Research finds that young drug users can suffer brain damage similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s

New research by scientists at Edinburgh University has found that young drug users can suffer brain damage similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. The research claims that young injecting drug users are up to three times more likely to suffer brain damage than non-users. The studies suggest that intravenous use of heroin or methadone can be linked to premature ageing of the brain. It revealed that some drug users sustained a level of brain damage normally seen only seen in much older people and similar to the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. [The Scotsman, 22 June]

Doctors attack government drug strategy for failures on drinking and smoking

Doctors have attacked the government’s National Drug Strategy for failing to tackle drinking and smoking in early life. ‘[The strategy] was set up with crime-reduction on mind – and for that reason it’s designed to tackle illegal drug use only,’ Dr Vasco Fernandes, consultant physician in alcohol and drug addiction, told public health doctors at a British Medical Association conference. Delegates voted for the government to set up accessible addiction services for young people and to focus on smoking prevention. Most drug addicts did not progress straight to heroin or crack cocaine, but began with the ‘gateway drugs’, smoking and drinking – problems which the government was leaving to other agencies, according to Dr Fernandes. ‘If we are serious about preventing addiction to both legal and illegal drugs, we must have better services to tackle these problems among young people, and they must be co-ordinated into the national drug strategy,’ he said. To do otherwise was to spend time ‘locking the door after the horse has well and truly bolted’. The conference called for a review of 24-hour drinking, including public debate.

Heroin scripts

Heroin prescribing treatment has gained new backing by a research team from the University of Amsterdam. Revealing their findings in the British Medical Journal, researchers said the treatment was expensive – but that the cost to health services was offset by savings linked to reduced levels of crime. The study was based on 430 heroin addicts on methadone maintenance in the Netherlands

Scientist developing portable sensor that can identify and trace tiny particles of heroin and cocaine Yorkshire research scientist Dr Deborah Rathbone is developing a portable sensor device that can identify and trace tiny particles of heroin and cocaine by ‘hoovering’ the air around a suspect. Apart from hoovering people, Ms Rathbone said the device could also be used on cars at roadside checkpoints, suitcases at airports and container lorries. The detector will be much more sensitive than sniffer dogs, and since it is portable it could be used to catch drug smugglers at any border. [Yorkshire Evening Post, 8 June]

Researchers identify critical gene that appears to control craving and relapse behaviour in heroin addicts

By examining the neurons of heroin-hooked rats, Ivan Diamond and colleagues at CV Therapeutics in California found that the AGS3 gene can increase the output of pleasure and addiction signals from a region of the brain known as the nucleus accumbens. This region was already known to be important for pleasure and reward, and central to heroin addiction. The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows exactly which gene triggers the pleasurable response. [The Guardian, 2 June]

Study into alcohol use in Blackpool reveals one in six people has been hospitalised through alcohol since 2000

A new study into alcohol use in Blackpool has revealed one in six people in the resort has been hospitalised through alcohol since 2000 and there are up to 90 preventable deaths a year through drink abuse. Problems are also gripping the emergency services – figures show more than a third of arrests made in Blackpool involve drunks. Director of Public Health for Blackpool Fylde and Wyre, Dr Andy Howe, said: ‘alcohol harm has become a priority due to the high levels of drink-related crime, injury and alcohol-related disease experienced in Blackpool’. [The Blackpool Gazette, 7 July]

Kids as young as 15 signing up for self-help meetings in a bid to kick their cocaine habits

Cocaine Anonymous Scotland has revealed how a growing number of youngsters are becoming addicted to the drug and they claim that cocaine abuse has reached ‘epidemic’ proportions. Experts blame the falling cost of the drug.

Profit margins for heroin traffickers into Britain

Profit margins for heroin traffickers into Britain are so high that they outstrip luxury goods companies such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci, according to half of a study that Downing Street has withheld from publication under freedom of information legislation. The report delivers a scathing verdict on efforts to disrupt the drugs supply chain and was leaked to the Guardian, which speculated on the government’s refusal to publish less than favourable news on the eve of the Live 8 concert. [The Guardian, 5 July]

Beer made with a caffeine additive to be launched in the UK

A beer made with a caffeine additive is to be launched in the UK – amid fears that it might fuel binge drinking. A spokesman for BE – Beer with Extra – which also contains guarana, and ginseng said ‘it will be marketed at people aged 18 to 34 who like drinking in bars and nightclubs’. Andrew McNeill, the director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said he was concerned that the caffeine content might encourage people to drink alcohol for longer periods. [The Scotsman, 4 July]

Source: DrugRelatedNews DDN July 05

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