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Harmful Drinking Among Middle-Class, Over-50s: The Hidden Phenomenon

Posted on August 28th, 2015

Age UK carried out a survey that was published online by the journal BJM Open, which found surprising findings that individuals of the middle-class, over the age of 50, were more at risk of harmful drinking levels than their younger and lower social class peers. In a study of more than 9,000 people a ‘hidden phenomenon’ was identified within the middle aged, middle-class. The study was carried out in two waves, the first in the year 2008/9 and the second in the year 2010/11. The author of the journal, Professor Iparraguirre suggested that those with an affluent lifestyle exhibited a greater risk of harmful drinking, finding that 20% of adults in this age group regularly consumed alcohol at levels damaging to their health.

The difference in age has been supported by research carried out by Think-Tank who found that the younger generation; those aged 16-24 exhibited an increasing rise in the number of individuals who were teetotal. Another interesting finding was that 41% of 16-24 year olds surveyed believed that alcohol held a greater importance for their parents than themselves.

What are the numbers?

  • 20% of those aged 50 and over regularly consume alcohol at levels deemed dangerous and damaging to one’s health
  • 41% of those aged between 16 and 24 believe alcohol holds a greater importance for their parents as opposed to themselves
  • Middle aged people are 3 times more likely to drink everyday then their younger counterparts

So what is considered ‘harmful drinking’?

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), consuming 22 units of alcohol or more a week is considered to be an ‘increasing risk’ for men, with consuming over 50 units of alcohol or more a week  carries a ‘higher risk’. For women, consuming 15 units of alcohol or more over the course of a week is seen as carrying a ‘increasing risk’ and the consumption of 35 units of alcohol or more a week carries a ‘higher risk’. Although there is yet to be an official alcohol consumption guideline for the over 65s, the Royal College of Psychiatrists have suggested a drinking limit of 1.5 units a day.

Besides social class and age group, what are the other contributing factors?

A study carried out by the English Longitudinal Study of Aging (ELSA) on individuals aged 50 and over, in 2008/9 and 2010/11 found several features that were positively associated with an increased risk in harmful drinking. Self-report measures of better health and higher educational attainment were both positively associated with a greater risk of harmful drinking. The study also highlighted similarities between genders and some differences. Regular smokers were considered a higher risk for both sexes.

Being single, separated or divorced and having a poor, unhealthy diet, carried a higher risk for men but not women, and this risk was greatest for men in their early 60s and men of white ethnicity. The risk of harmful drinking in women decreased with age but early retirement was positively associated with a higher risk of harmful drinking. There was also a difference between the two waves of the survey, in the 2010/11 survey factors such as loneliness, younger age and higher income were all contributing factors for women, which were not identified as being influencing features in the first wave of 2008/9.

Chief executive of Alcohol Concern, Jackie Ballard, suggests that another reason for the rise in harmful drinking in the middle class is that drinking in one’s own home has become more socially acceptable. Unsurprisingly, having children in the household and having a lower income saw a lower risk of harmful drinking.

What are the effects of high risk drinking behaviour?

Drinking everyday can lead to alcohol tolerance, which refers to an individual’s body becoming use to regular alcohol consume and building up a tolerance to it, which then leads to the need to consume more alcohol in order to feel the same effects. Alcohol tolerance can occur by moderate drinking every day. Other health risks include serious, but preventable conditions such as cancers of the throat, mouth and neck, strokes, mental health problems, liver disease and high blood pressure.

What are the possible causes of this ‘hidden phenomenon’?

The research author states that one of the most influencing contributing factors to the research findings is that the social group of question is generally healthier and are therefore less aware of the damaging effects of consuming large quantities of alcohol. The impact of the lack of awareness exhibited by the social group at hand is emphasised by the widely held belief that moderate drinking is beneficial to one’s health and that they are unlikely to experience any health problems as a result of their moderate drinking, all of which is incorrect. These beliefs were identified during the survey. Another possible cause, which is also associated with the decline in young adult’s drinking behaviour, is the rising cost of alcohol, something that can be easily overlooked by those of the middle-class. The paper concludes with the proposition that those of the middle-class, over the age of 50, have a better health, higher education and are more socially active consume greater levels of alcohol.

What is being done, and what still needs to be done to combat this issue?

Awareness is vital to those of the middle-class, over 50s age group, as it is suggested by the research report that many who fall within the social group fail to recognise the harm increasing alcohol consumption can cause. At the current time, the NHS Health Check, which is available to all those who reside in England between the ages of 40 and 74, includes an alcohol risk assessment and advice for those believed to be at risk. The survey advises the complete incorporation of age specific drinking guidelines that match the levels and patterns of drinking in those of the middle-class, aged over 50.


The Decline of Drinking in the Younger Generation

Posted on August 21st, 2015

In a recent survey carried out and published by Think-Tank, it was found that 19% of young adults surveyed (aged 16-24) do not drink. This finding validates previous research by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that recognised an increase in the number of young adults who were teetotal, seeing a dramatic change over the last 10 years from 19% to 27%. The Think-Tank survey results are supported by official government figures that have found a decline in underage drinking and alcohol-related harm.

The findings broken down:

  • 9% of 16-24 year olds do not drink
  • 66% of 16-24 year olds state that alcohol is not an important factor to their social lives
  • 41% of 16-24 year olds believe that alcohol is a more important factor to their parent’s life than their own
  • Over 40% of 16-24 year olds state that increasing social media use as caused a decrease in individual drinking behaviour
  • 42% of 16-24 year olds state that social media sites have created more activities to fill their time with
  • 29% of 16-24 year olds are concerned about their reputation in regards to social media sharing

What is the cause of this decline?

The survey explored the causes of the decline in drinking in young adults finding several important factors such as social media, the increasing cost of alcohol, the difficulty of accessing alcohol for those underage, and the awareness of health risks and negative anti-social behaviour associated with drinking. To elucidated upon, drink aware campaigns have dramatically expanded over the last decade with drinking guidelines and associated health risks being posted everywhere from bottles to drinking venues. Drinking venues have also become much stricter in regards to the selling of alcohol to those underage. The motivation to correctly check ID’s has increased as fines have doubled to £20,000 for venues caught selling alcohol to those underage. Nonetheless, an emerging finding in the Think-Tank survey was that the increasing use and influencing importance of social media has caused this major decline in drinking behaviour.

The emerging influence of social media:

The Think-Tank survey found that more than 40% of 16-24 year olds surveyed attributed their decrease, or cessation of drinking being due to their increasing use of social media. So how has social media aided this? One explanation is that social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have given people more activities to fill their time with, and this statement was supported by 42% of those surveyed. The report proposes that when this factor is combined with the increasing prices of alcohol and the difficulties in accessibility, the desire to drink has tough competition. Furthermore, 29% of those surveyed expressed concerns relating to their reputation being tainted by the online sharing of drunken antics and attributing this concern as being an important contributing factor towards their individual decrease in drinking. The exact influence of social media is difficult to pinpoint but it is valid to say that social media takes both the role of a distraction and deterrent from drinking, and can have both an explicit and implicit effect.

Generation changes:

As stated above, young adults see the older generation as possessing a greater need and desire for alcohol than they do. This is a widely shared opinion (42%) and is supported by other research that has found that middle aged individuals tend to spend more on alcohol than young adults, and are willing to, and spend 40% more on alcohol than they did 10 years ago. In addition, the declining trend of alcohol use in young adults mirrors their drug use, particularly with smoking. Research has found that over the course of a decade, the number of high school pupils who have tried smoking has dropped from 60% to 20%. An NHS study examining the attitudes towards smoking cannabis found that the younger generation have an increased and greater negative attitude towards drug use then their older generation counterparts. This is relevant because alcohol is often attributed as a gateway drug, and as a result of research it is evident that a decrease in drinking in the younger generation has also lead to a decline in drug use.


Despite these findings by Think-Tank, there are still some major issues in certain parts of the country, such as Scotland and the north-east, where underage and young adults binge drinking behaviour is a problem. Issues are more predominately seen in those vulnerable to alcohol addiction, due to a family history of alcohol abuse. Additionally, The European School Survey highlighted how British teenagers consume more alcohol than their European counterparts. Nonetheless, there has been a significant decline in the drinking behaviour of young people and there is an overestimation of young people’s drinking behaviour.

Changes to the drug driving law

Posted on August 14th, 2015

Drug driving has been shown to cause consequential negative effects on driving. The effects can be dangerous, resulting in slower reaction times, poorer concentration, over-confidence, and distorted vision. These symptoms are not only harmful for the driver but for passengers and other road users[1]. Thus, a new drug driving law was passed on 2 March 2015, making it illegal to drive over a specified limit with certain drugs in a person’s system and making it easier for the police to identify and convict drug abusers. Specifically, abusers of both illegal drugs and prescription medication can now be prosecuted if they display excessive levels of these specific substances in their system.

Seventeen legal and illegal drugs are covered by the law, including cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, diazepam, lorazepam and amphetamine[2]. If the police stop people under the suspicion that they are driving under the influence of drugs, they can either test them at the roadside using a drug screening device or a “Field Impairment” test to assess a person’s driving ability. If illegal drugs or prescription medicines are detected in a person’s system or they display drug levels over the specified blood limits, they will be arrested and prosecuted if found guilty. Previously, the prosecution would need to show that the person, who they believed to have abused drugs, had taken a said substance that had impaired their driving ability. Although this law would continue to exist, a person can be convicted under this new law, without the need to provide evidence of impaired driving ability.

Critics of the new law have argued that costly roadside tests are only sensitive to two illegal drugs, cannabis and cocaine, so would not impact meaningful change. Traffic Lawyer Nick Freeman suggests that drug users would just use other illegal substances insensitive to ‘roadside drugalysers’ and so, the police require equipment that detects the vast majority of controlled subjects[3]. Also, if the responsibility for education about suitable levels of medicine is directed at healthcare professionals, the classification criteria of drug use needs to be watertight. Crucially, the limits for illegal substances have been set extremely low, which has several implications, most notably, that even a small consumption of certain drug substances can put a person over a specified limit. However, critique has arisen in regards to the motives of the low levels of drug specification limits. Specifically, because the blood limits of certain illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine are significantly lower than prescription drugs, perhaps new measures are simply intended to prosecute certain kinds of drug users under the guise of improving road safety[4].

Nevertheless, recent statistics have demonstrated that drug driving is a pertinent issue, a recent 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that an estimated 9.9 million people aged 12 or older (or 3.8 percent of teens and adults) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed[5]. Therefore, it is encouraging, that more than 900 Motorists in England and Wales have been arrested on suspicion of drug-driving since the enforcement of the new drug driving legislation[6]. The penalties for drug driving are the same as for drunk driving, if found guilty, individuals will receive sanctions including a minimum 12 month driving ban, a criminal record and monetary fines.

Therefore, it is imperative that service users be made aware of the increased risk for accidents and death, after over consuming specified drugs under the new law[7]. Service users should also confer with their doctor, pharmacist or healthcare professional before driving. Public health experts have also urged service users to develop social strategies, to consider the consequences of losing their driving license and driving after either taking illegal drugs or abusing prescription medication[8]. Certain strategies include avoiding driving to parties where drugs and alcohol are present, discussing the risks of drugged driving with friends in advance and offering to be a designated driver. 

[1] Drug driving : THINK! : Roadsafety . (2015). Drug driving : THINK! : Roadsafety . [ONLINE] Available at:

[2] Drugs and driving: the law – GOV.UK. (2015). Drugs and driving: the law – GOV.UK. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 June 2015]

[3] New drug-driving laws are a ‘stunt’ says traffic lawyer – BBC Newsbeat. (2015). New drug-driving laws are a ‘stunt’ says traffic lawyer – BBC Newsbeat. [ONLINE] Available at:

[4] You’d have to be high to believe the drug-driving laws were designed to improve road safety – Spectator Blogs. (2015). You’d have to be high to believe the drug-driving laws were designed to improve road safety – Spectator Blogs. [ONLINE] Available at:

[5] DrugFacts: Drugged Driving | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (2015).  [ONLINE] Available at:

[6] More than 900 arrests for drug-driving – BBC News. (2015). More than 900 arrests for drug-driving – BBC News. [ONLINE] Available at:

[7] DrugFacts: Drugged Driving | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (2015).  [ONLINE] Available at:

[8] DrugFacts: Drugged Driving | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (2015).  [ONLINE] Available at:

Global Drug Survey 2015 Information: Synthetic Cannabinoid Products

Posted on August 8th, 2015

What is synthetic cannabinoid?

A substance that is created by adding chemicals, synthetic cannabinoids to a herbal base material. Synthetic cannabinoids mimics tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active substance in cannabis, resulting in synthetic cannabinoids exhibiting similar effects as seen with cannabis consumption. Synthetic cannabinoids are more commonly known by street names such as ‘Spice’, ‘K2’, ‘Fake Pot’ and ‘Skunk’, and is often falsely advertised as being more natural and safer than cannabis. Synthetic cannabinoid is not flagged on a standard drug test, further urine analysis is needed to detect it, for this reason and the fact that it is odourless and cheaper, it is not difficult to see why it is a popular drug. Additionally, it is predominantly consumed through smoking but can be consumed in a powder and oil form.

What are the effects of synthetic cannabinoids?

The effects of synthetic cannabinoids are similar, yet slightly stronger, to cannabis use. Elevated mood, altered consciousness, sedation, relaxation, hunger, drowsiness and being talkative are some of the most common effects pf synthetic cannabinoids that are also shared with cannabis consumption. However, the Global Drug Survey have found that unlike cannabis, synthetic cannabinoids can cause a large variety of potentially severe and dangerous symptoms, that are prevalent among synthetic cannabinoid users. Such as panic, high blood pressure, nausea, respiratory problems, agitation, sweating and low mood, all of which are found in over 30% of synthetic cannabinoid users. Another difference between cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids is that there is a large increase in the prevalence of psychosis, seen in the use of synthetic cannabinoids. These psychotic symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, extreme behavioural changes and confused and disturbed thoughts. Drug induced psychosis is most commonly seen in teenagers and young adults. Once consumed, the effects of synthetic cannabinoids are felt immediately, once the drug has entered the brain and can last anywhere between 1 – 3 hours.

The dangers of synthetic cannabinoid?

For the last 3 years the Global Drug Survey has found that synthetic cannabinoids use is more likely to leave an individual needing emergency medical treatment, than any other drug. Worryingly, there has been a 30% increase from 2014 – 2015, in the seeking of emergency medical treatment, following synthetic cannabinoid use. Withdrawal symptoms can be very damaging to individuals who have consumed synthetic cannabinoids 50 or more times in a year. Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, sleep difficulties and low mood and are found in over 60% of individuals discontinuing synthetic cannabinoid use. Like many recreational drugs, synthetic cannabinoids is particularly dangerous for individuals with mental health problems. There have also been a number of investigations into the deaths of individuals known to consume synthetic cannabinoids, which is led to the banning of several ‘legal highs’.

Why is synthetic cannabinoids so dangerous?

Use of synthetic cannabinoids is so dangerous because the chemicals used are unknown and are potentially toxic. Synthetic cannabinoids have a greater, and more varied effect because it acts as a full agnostic on CB1 receptors, as opposed to THC, which acts as a partial agnostic. This means that the drug has a greater effect as it alters CB1 receptors for a longer period of time. In addition, CB1 receptors are present in almost every brain region, which accounts for the wide variety of possible effects. For example, a CB1 receptor in the hippocampus can cause difficulties with memory. Synthetic cannabinoids also have a very high potency, 100 more times than cannabis. This means that less of the drug is needed to create a high; this can be very damaging to drug users as a lack of aware may lead to accidental overdose.  Another finding as to why synthetic cannabinoids are so dangerous is due to the difficulty in deactivating it, meaning that the drug is present in the bloodstream for longer. Also, cannabis contains cannabidoil which dulls and blunts some of the adverse effects of THC, synthetic cannabinoids does not have this.

Discussion on Multiple Needs

Posted on July 30th, 2015

What is ‘multiple needs’?

‘Multiple needs’ is a term used to refer to the co-morbidity of severe multiple disadvantages (SMD) such as homelessness, substance misuse and difficulties with the criminal justice system, along with occurrence of mental health disorders.

What are the statistics?

– 92% of people with SMD issues also report difficulties with mental health.

– 55% of people with SMD issues have been formally diagnosed with a mental health disorder, by a healthcare professional

– £112 million has been invested into an 8 year programme that aims to improve the treatment and lives of individuals with multiple needs, by 2020, and shall be spread throughout 12 areas within England

– 58,000 individuals in England have experienced at least one SMD within 1 year

– 164,000 individuals in England experienced an overlap of 2 or more SMD issues within 1 year

– White men, aged 25-44 are most likely to suffer SMD

– Over the course of a year, the average local authority may expect to deal with 1,470 SMD cases

– 72% of male offenders and 71% of female offenders have two or more mental health problems

Causes of SMD

A poor childhood and upbringing have been consistently identified as an important predictor of SMD. For example, 85% of individuals who had 3 SMD’s also experienced a traumatic experience during childhood. This group consisted of 42% who had run away from home, 29% who had grown up watching their parents struggle with drug and/or alcohol problems, and 17% where the parent had a mental health disorder.

Another possible cause for the co-existence of SMD and mental health issues is that they are both caused by overlapping factors. For example, drug abuse and mental health issues can be caused by underlying brain deficits, genetic vulnerabilities and early experience of extreme stress or trauma.

The Generalised Sequence of Life Events of those with Multiple Needs

  1. Substance misuse
  2. Transition to street lifestyle
  3. Confirmed street lifestyle
  4. ‘Official’ homelessness

Outlined by a team of professionals from the Heriot-Watt Univeristy (2010).

Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM)


MEAM are a coalition of 3 foundations, Clinks, Homeless Link and Mind. Clinks are a charity that works on aiding and improving the lives of convicted and released offenders. Homeless Link is a charity that aims to improve the lives of homeless people, and Mind is a mental health charity.


To improve multiple needs outcomes and mental health outcomes by the year 2020.


  1. To use feedback from individuals experiencing difficulties with mental health and multiple needs, to shape the new strategy.
  2. To reduce health inequalities for people with multiple needs.
  3. Ensuring that high-quality, mental health support is available to all those that need it.
  4. To ensure that individuals are diagnosed correctly.
  5. To form a clear cross-government strategy and commitment to those with multiple needs.

What has been done?

8 local areas were aided by the MEAM coalition, to provide appropriate ways to implement the elements of the MEAM approach. These areas are Westminster, Cambridge, Oxford, Exeter, Lichfield and Tamworth, Derby, Blackburn/Wigan, North Tyneside, Sunderland, York and Norwich. Despite being in place for just over a year, the programmes have seen a significant improvement in the wellbeing of individuals with multiple needs. There has also been a significant decrease in costs, a reduction of 26.4%!

In a review of the coalition of MEAM, Gulbenkian found that the MEAM approach has provided a valuable framework for the lengthy process involved in improving the lives of those with SMD. The approach has also sparked an interest in other national funders, which could result in an increase in speed and improvement of the MEAM approach.

Overall, the MEAM approach has received positive feedback whilst duly acknowledging that the approach will take time to be implemented thoroughly.

The need for an EU strategy to reduce healthcare costs related to alcohol use

Posted on July 24th, 2015

The need for an EU strategy to reduce healthcare costs related to alcohol use

The cost of treatment and care for people with alcohol-related ill-health has significantly risen in recent years and will continue to rise, unless strategies are put in place to try and reduce the problem. In 2006, the EU came together to design and implement a common strategy in response to the extensive health impact of the high level of alcohol consumption amongst EU countries. In 2006, the EU data showed that alcohol consumption has remained relatively stable for most Member states between 2002 and 2006, with a trend towards higher consumption in 8 countries. The Commission’s Impact Assessment (2006) revealed that alcohol consumption was the 3rd largest risk factor for ill-health in the EU (after blood pressure and tobacco). It also estimated that alcohol was responsible for around 195,000 deaths each year in the EU. Alcohol related deaths include accidents, suicide, liver disease, cancer and neuropsychiatric illnesses. Finally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that alcohol is the cause or around 7% of all ill-health and early death in the EU. It is not only the tragic loss of life and health that must be considered, but also the huge cost of treatment and care. In 2006, the cost of alcohol-related healthcare to EU societies was approximately €125 billion. So has the 2006 EU Alcohol Strategy seen any improvements? In 2009, the EU produced a progress report, and revealed that the strategy has been successful, in that EU member states have increased resources and tactics for reducing harm caused by alcohol. The strategy mainly focused on; revising and enforcing age limits for alcohol consumption, tightening restrictions on alcohol advertisement, emphasising the risk of drinking during pregnancy (France introduced a mandatory warning on all alcohol products) and reducing road traffic accidents related to alcohol (all EU members, except the UK, Ireland and Malta, have lower alcohol-consumption limits whilst driving for inexperienced and professional drivers). This being said, statistics suggests more still needs to be done to tackle the issue, as Europe is still the world’s heaviest drinking region. The extensive consumption is putting strain on healthcare systems and government finances causing significant socio-economic damage. The estimated social cost of alcohol misuse in Europe (2010) was €155.8 billion or which €82.9 billion was not for healthcare e.g. was from loss of productivity due to absence from work etc. Moreover, the true social cost is probably significantly higher as these figures do not take into account costs to people other than the drinker. In April (2015), the EU healthcare secretaries met to discuss the effectiveness of the strategy and possible improvements. They reviewed the global aim to reduce alcohol-related harm by 10% and concluded that it was necessary for the EU to continue focusing on; pricing and tax measures, marketing and restrictions on the availability of alcoholic beverages, legal measures to reduce drink driving, and the raising of public awareness, in order to meet the aim. They also stated that the EU would only support member states in the “three P” areas (Prevention of illness, Promotion of healthy living and Protection). They also set out a plan for a new Alcohol Strategy to strengthen the current one. This included the possible introduction of an Alcohol Minimum Unit Price (MUP) across the EU, as results from Scotland have suggested this could be successful.

Triage launch Dry Out Now to help combat addiction

Posted on July 24th, 2015

After the recent British Drugs Survey revelation that one in five UK adults have tried a banned narcotic substance, Triage is pleased to announce its new UK-wide service to combat addiction – Dry Out Now.

The premise is simple but effective. Dry Out Now provides expert, confidential consultation on a huge range of addiction issues. As with other Triage services, Dry Out Now is open every single day and offers free consultation for those affected by the perils of drug dependency.

The solutions on offer range from expert advice on local treatment services in a person’s area, to locating rehab services for more severe instances. Dry Out Now is dedicated to ensuring a person’s treatment is tailored uniquely to them, and that they never pay over the odds for any chosen rehab service. As Dry Out Now is not financially linked to any specific clinics, clients have peace of mind, knowing they are independent and on their side in finding the most suitable treatment.

A spokesperson for Triage said: ‘Dry Out Now has a central mission – to provide impartial advice, and easy access to effective rehabilitation treatments.’

Additionally, Dry Out Now prides itself on providing a range of resources to help those who suffer from addiction to get their lives back on track. These resources range from a confidential alcohol assessment questionnaire which can help an individual decide whether treatment may be necessary, to a library of expert advice guides which can be downloaded straight from the site. Dry Out Now also keeps its clients up to date with any news about new treatments or centres near them via email, so they feel supported and informed while fighting the battle against addiction.

Dry Out Now maintains the reputation for discretion and excellence already long established by the Triage group. For more information, please visit

A third of Scottish drug-related deaths are parents

Posted on July 23rd, 2015

A third of Scottish drug-related deaths are parents….

According to ISD Scotland, a third of people dying from drug-related illness/accidents in Scotland are parents. This means that around 270 children are being affected. In 2013, two thirds of drug-related deaths were people aged over 35 and were thus more likely to be parents. Similarly, people who make ill-informed decisions, live in more impoverished areas with poorer education are more likely to both, take drug and have more children at a younger age. The loss of a parent can lead to a variety of life-changing consequences. Children who lose a parent may have to go into foster care if the other parent is not able to look after them. This is not only traumatic for the child but also puts more strain on already struggling county councils. Furthermore, it has been found that children who have suffered significant stress or trauma during childhood are more likely to use drugs as a form of relief during adolescents and adulthood. Clearly more needs to be done to reduce this issue.

The Community safety minister (Paul Wheelhouse) stated that ‘by providing further context around these deaths, and by studying the contributing factors, we can ensure that more families in Scotland can avoid the painful loss of a loved one to drug use’. Although this suggests the strategy will aim to prevent not cure the problem, which is always the best approach, it will most likely be a long process and years of research and statistics. It may be that a better approach would be to put in place some more short term strategies. These could include faster intervention when a person’s drug-abuse is getting dangerous, better training for teachers in how to spot children who may be having a troubled home life and more emphasis on support and guidance for those over 35 as many services focus on youth and younger adult age-groups.

Another vulnerable group in Scotland are men living in deprived areas. From 2009 till 2014 three quarters of those who died from drug abuse-related deaths were males and half were living in the most deprived areas. Even more significantly, more than half had been in contact with drug treatment services, while just over a quarter had been admitted to hospital for an acute or psychiatric stay in the 6 months before their death.  These are concerning figures as even-through it is impossible for drug treatment services to prevent all drug-related deaths, it is clear that more could be being done within these services in regard to spotting and intervening in cases where suicide or accidental overdose is likely. It is also apparent that it is not only drug services that are failing to intervene in severe cases but also other mental health and psychiatric services. It is almost certain that the failings are due to a lack of finances for drug and alcohol services, charities and the NHS.

The types of drugs causing such deaths are also changing. A survey between 2011 and 2013 found that the number of deaths due to heroine had remained the same but the percentage due to methadone fell from 56% in 2011 to 47% in 2013. However, more than 200 cases of alcohol related death between 2009 and 2013 were due to New Proactive Substances. New Proactive substances can be defined as: a new narcotic or psychotropic drug, in pure form or in preparation, that is not controlled by the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but may pose a public health threat comparable to that posed by substances listed in these conventions (Council Decision, 2005). The use of these substances is also known as ‘legal highs’ and are particularly hard to legislate against as every time one is made illegal, new versions are produced and sold almost immediately. The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction identified 73 new substances in 2012 alone. In response to the concerning figures the Community Safety Minister for Scotland stated that ‘ The Scottish government are in early discussions with the home office on how we will work together to create to new legislation to control for sale and supply of  NPS, both here in Scotland and also around the rest of the UK.’


Is Alcohol More Dangerous Than Cannabis

Posted on July 17th, 2015

A comparative study has been conducted on the risk of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other drugs. The researchers used a Margin of Exposure (MOE) approach to gather results. MOE compares the estimated intake with the known lethal doses. The MOE is officially defined as the ratio between the point on the dose response curve which characterises adverse effects in studies and the estimated human intake of the same compound. Ultimately, MOE calculates a ratio and the lower the ratio means the lower the risk for humans. (more…)

Triage Healthcare’s new solution to alcohol addiction

Posted on July 17th, 2015

Triage Healthcare have launched their new Dry Out Now campaign, created to increase the help available for alcohol addiction sufferers in the UK, working alongside the NHS and the demand for it in the community.

The new website aims to provide free and confidential advice regarding addiction treatment, offering help to individuals, family members or close friends who are worried about someone suffering from an addiction. The site provides evidence-based advice on what works and what does not, providing an online self assessment, success stories and information to encourage and aid family and friends.

The site will be of tremendous value to the NHS, rehabilitation centres in the UK and addiction sufferers and their family. One customer on the website, Colin, wrote: “We wish to express our deepest thanks to you for all your assistance in finding a residential treatment clinic to deal with our son’s alcohol addiction. Thanks to your intervention he was admitted to a clinic that same day and indeed was even picked up from the hospital and taken there by one of their staff.”

Triage Healthcare are known for their professional advice, only employing professionally qualified experts. The company’s mission is to help sufferers all over the UK overcome their addiction with the help of internet based contact and they’ve had large scale success rates so far. “Really appreciated your advice and your listening ear this afternoon,” wrote Philip, while Paddy commented saying: “Many thanks, I would like to congratulate you on an excellent service. Also thanks for sending this through so promptly.”

A spokesman for the new campaign added: “The family and friends of those suffering from a dependence on alcohol can often find themselves at a loss as to how to tackle the problem. We aim to give them good quality, professional advice, so they know how best to deal with their loved one’s addiction.”

For more information visit contains further information and methods of contact.