Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England

This report contains results from a survey of secondary school pupils in England in years 7 to 11. 12,051 pupils in 177 schools completed questionnaires in the autumn term of 2016. | NHS Digital

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This survey report presents information on the percentage of pupils who have ever smoked, tried alcohol or taken drugs and their attitudes towards these behaviours.  It also includes breakdowns by age, gender, ethnicity and region.

Other areas covered include the use of new psychoactive substances (also known as legal highs), beliefs about drinking, whether pupils had ever got drunk and consequences of drinking. Questions on the use of nitrous oxide have also been asked for the first time.

Key Facts

In 2016

  • 19 per cent of 11-15 year old pupils had ever smoked, which is similar to 2014
  • 44 per cent of pupils had ever drunk alcohol
  • 24 per cent of pupils reported they had ever taken drugs. This compares to 15 per cent in 2014. Part of the increase since 2014 may be explained by the addition of questions on nitrous oxide and new psychoactive substances. After allowing for this however, it still represents a large increase. Therefore an estimate from the next survey in 2018 is required before we can be confident that these survey results reflect a genuine trend in the wider population. In the meantime the results for drug taking from this survey should be treated with caution.
  • 3 per cent of pupils were regular smokers, 10 per cent had drunk alcohol in the last week and 10 per cent had taken drugs in the last month.

Full report: Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England – 2016: Report

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How alcohol and drug treatment helps to reduce crime

Report re-affirms how important drug treatment is in cutting crime, as well as preventing alcohol and drug-related deaths and helping people recover from dependence. | Ministry of Justice | Public Health England

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In England, almost 300,000 adults get help for drug and alcohol dependency each year. Most people receiving drug treatment are addicted to heroin or crack cocaine, or both, and many commit crimes to fund their addiction.

New analysis published last week by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has added to the evidence of how alcohol and drug treatment can help to prevent crime.

The analysis revealed that:

  • In 2012, nearly 133,000 people started treatment for drugs and alcohol, 35% of which had a criminal conviction recorded against them in the two years previous
  • Overall 44% of people in treatment hadn’t offended again two years after starting treatment
  • The number of recorded offences by people in treatment fell by a third over the two years, from 129,000 to 86,500
  • People who had been in prison before starting treatment, and those who dropped out and came back to treatment, were more likely to reoffend
  • People who successfully completed their treatment, or were still in treatment at the end of the two years, were less likely to reoffend

Full story at Public Health England

Full report: The impact of community-based drug and alcohol treatment on re-offending

The Role of Nurses in Alcohol and Drug Treatment Services

Guidance for commissioners, providers and clinicians on the roles of nurses in alcohol and drug treatment in England. | Public Health England

This resource describes the many potential roles of nurses in alcohol and drug treatment in England to help commissioners and providers of specialist adult alcohol and drug treatment services to recruit the right workforce to meet local needs.

The document outlines:

  • The roles of nurses working in alcohol and drug treatment including the contribution they can make to health and social care outcomes
  • The added value nurses can bring to alcohol and drug treatment
  • The competences and skills that should be expected of nurses working in alcohol and drug treatment
  • What is required to develop and maintain these competences

Full document: The Role of Nurses in Alcohol and Drug Treatment Services:  A resource for commissioners, providers and clinicians

Alcohol, drugs and tobacco: commissioning support pack

Annually updated alcohol, drugs and tobacco commissioning support pack for local authorities | Public Health England

This commissioning support pack will help local authorities to develop joint strategic needs assessment and local joint health and wellbeing strategies which effectively address public health issues relating to alcohol, drug and tobacco use.

The pack covers 4 topics, which are:

  • planning alcohol harm prevention, treatment and recovery in adults
  • planning drugs prevention, treatment and recovery in adults
  • planning comprehensive interventions for young people
  • planning comprehensive local tobacco control interventions

For each of these topics, there are:

  • a set of good practice principles and indicators to help local areas assess need and plan and commission effective services and interventions
  • bespoke data for each local area to help them commission effective services and interventions

Documents available via Public Health England

Substance misuse in older people

Action is needed to deal with growing levels of substance misuse in people aged over 50, claims BMJ editorial 

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Researchers in the UK and Australia said the number of people aged over 50 who were experiencing problems from substance misuse was growing rapidly and the numbers receiving treatment were expected to treble in the US and double in Europe by 2020.

In both the UK and Australia, dangerous levels of drinking are declining, except among people aged 50 years and older, they said. One of the authors warns that the issue goes beyond drinking, citing illicit drugs such as cannabis, and commonly prescribed medications such as opioid painkillers as also being an issue.

Full  editorial:  Rao, R. & Roche, A.  Substance misuse in older people: Baby boomers are the population at highest risk  BMJ 2017;358:j3885

Related : Baby boomers’ drink and drug misuse needs urgent action, warn experts | The Guardian

The Role of Science in Addressing the Opioid Crisis

Opioid misuse and addiction is an ongoing and rapidly evolving public health crisis, requiring innovative scientific solutions | New England Journal of Medicine

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Image source: Marina Caruso – Wellcome Images // CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

In response, and because no existing medication is ideal for every patient, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is joining with private partners to launch an initiative in three scientific areas: developing better overdose-reversal and prevention interventions to reduce mortality, saving lives for future treatment and recovery; finding new, innovative medications and technologies to treat opioid addiction; and finding safe, effective, nonaddictive interventions to manage chronic pain. Each of these areas requires a range of short-, intermediate-, and long-term research strategies

Full reference: Volkow, N.D. & and Collins, F.S. (2017) The Role of Science in Addressing the Opioid Crisis.  New England Journal of Medicine. Issue 377: pp.391-394

People with co-occurring conditions: commission and provide services

Better care for people with co-occurring mental health and alcohol/drug use conditions: A guide for commissioners and service providers | Public Health England

This Public Health England (PHE) guide, developed with the support of NHS England,  should be used by the commissioners and providers of mental health and alcohol and drug treatment services, to inform the commissioning and provision of effective care for people with co-occurring mental health and alcohol/drug use conditions. It also has relevance for all other services that have contact with people with co-occurring conditions, including people experiencing mental health crisis.

The guidance has been co-produced with members of the expert reference group for co-existing substance misuse with mental health issues, and in consultation with experts through experience, service providers, practitioners, commissioners and policy leads.

It aims to support local areas to commission timely and effective responses for people
with co-occurring conditions. It encourages commissioners and service providers to
work together to improve access to services which can reduce harm, improve health
and enhance recovery, enabling services to respond effectively and flexibly to
presenting needs and prevent exclusion.

Full document available via Public Health England