The relationship between domestic abuse and substance use is a complex but marked one. Whilst there is much evidence of correlation, direct causation is harder to demonstrate and indeed attempting to do so, some feel, clouds the issue of personal responsibility and partly absolves the perpetrator of their actions. Our 2012 research with AVA (pdf) found that for many parents, abuse – which encompasses not just the physical but the emotional, mental and financial – is simply considered part and parcel of supporting a child who has a drug or alcohol problem. Some parents find it easier to characterise abusive behaviour as a side-effect of substance use than acknowledge that their child has chosen to behave in a certain way towards them. What’s certainly true is that whatever the age of the child – and many older parents experience abuse from their adult children – struggling to deal with abusive behaviour from someone much loved and loyally protected is incredibly difficult, and can cause conflicted emotions and a questioning of parenting ability.
Informed by this research and funded by Comic Relief, we have been working since May last year on an exciting befriending project bringing together affected parents and the practitioners that support them to think about child-to-parent abuse (CPA) and ways to support others struggling with similar problems. The training workshops will sensitively and appropriately raise awareness of CPA and equip volunteer learners with the skills and techniques to offer informal befriending support to peers.
We are running a workshop in London on March 3 and also hope to run a session in the West Midlands in April. The workshops are free and are targeted at parents affected by CPA and the practitioners who support them – so we are ideally looking for volunteers and practitioners with existing relationships to come together.
Fiona Bruce MP asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the higher rate of duty on high-strength beer introduced in 2011 on reducing consumption of that beer; and what assessment he has made of the potential effectiveness of similar measures in reducing the consumption of high-strength cider. Jane Ellison MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, replied that the Government keeps all taxes under review, including alcohol duties, and is always willing to consider any evidence in relation to alcohol taxation policy.
Liz McInnes MP asked the Secretary of State for Health what timetable has been set by his department for eliminating hepatitis C based on current testing and treatment rates. Nicola Blackwood MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, answered that testing and diagnosis of individuals infected with hepatitis C and their subsequent care and treatment are important aspects of controlling hepatitis C, along with prevention and surveillance. These actions will contribute to the WHO Europe Action Plan which is looking for the elimination of viral hepatitis as a public health threat in Europe by 2030. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence have published guidance on testing for hepatitis C to target at-risk populations. PHE supports the Government’s efforts by publishing hepatitis C metrics which are available in the report Hepatitis C in the UK 2016 report: Working towards its elimination as a major public health threat (pdf).
Baroness Randerson asked the Government how many people it estimates will need to receive hepatitis C treatment in England over the next 13 years in order to achieve the WHO’s goal of eliminating hepatitis C by 2030. Lord O’Shaughnessy, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Health, said that the WHO’s Global Health Sector Strategy on Viral Hepatitis 2016-21 proposes milestones and targets to eliminate hepatitis C. The WHO’s strategy highlights the role of prevention activities, including blood safety, safe injections, and harm reduction interventions among people who inject drugs. The strategy also sets a 2030 target that 80% of eligible persons with chronic hepatitis C are treated.
Amanda Solloway MP, Luke Hall MP and Sir David Amess MP asked what steps the Government was taking to treat drug addiction in prison and provide education and skills to training to prisoners formerly addicted to drugs to help them to find work on release. Dr Phillip Lee MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, answered that the prison safety and reform White Paper affirms the Government’s commitment to reassess its approach on tackling the supply of and the demand for drugs in prisons. It also gives governors greater power over services in their prisons, devolving control over education and increasing influence over healthcare provision, including drug testing and rehabilitation.
Mary Glindon MP asked the Secretary of State for Health, what the timetable is for the Government's response to the report by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Reducing Opioid-related Deaths in the UK, published in December 2016. Nicola Blackwood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health, answered that under the Working Protocol between the Government and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), “Ministers will look to provide a decision on all ACMD recommendations and to publish a response within 3 months of receipt”.
Hepatitis C and Families - Adfam
Adfam has been funded by Gilead Sciences for an exciting piece of research into the impact of hepatitis C on family members of those injecting drugs. It is estimated that approximately 214,000 people in the UK are living with chronic hepatitis C, but only around half of people who inject drugs know their hep C status. This is despite intravenous drug-users being one of the groups most at risk of contracting the disease. The experiences of family members are largely undocumented; this piece of research aims to rectify this. We have put together two short surveys for family members of those who have been diagnosed with hep C and of those who are at risk of contracting hep C because they inject drugs.
NPS Use Surveys - Liverpool John Moores University
Researchers from the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University are researching the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS or ‘legal highs’). They have put together two surveys: one on the use of mephedrone (MCat, Meow Meow, Drone, Bubble) and one on the use of synthetic cannabinoids (e.g. herbal smoking mixtures such as ‘Spice’, ‘Mamba’, or compounds such as 5F-AKB-48, AKB-48). They invite UK residents aged 18 years or older who have used mephedrone and/or synthetic cannabinoids at least once in the past 12 months to participate in each survey.
Young people’s statistics from the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System (NDTMS) (pdf) - Public Health England
This paper outlines key NDTMS statistics relating to young people covering 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016. Key findings included that the number of young people in specialist substance misuse treatment went down 7% from last year, 65% of young people in treatment were male and 87% said they had a problem with cannabis. It also covers other substances young people were having problems with, the most common routes into substance misuse services, other problems or vulnerabilities related to young people’s substance use and waiting times for accessing services.
Estimation of national, regional, and global prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and fetal alcohol syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis - Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
This article presents the findings from a review into the estimation of the prevalence of alcohol use during pregnancy and fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) around the world. By estimating the prevalence of alcohol during pregnancy and FAS in the general population, the researchers were able to estimate that 1 in every 67 women who consumed alcohol during pregnancy would deliver a child with FAS. They found that alcohol use during pregnancy is common in many countries, and thus FAS is a relatively common birth defect. The article recommends more effective prevention strategies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy and surveillance of FAS.
Map of Drug Policy Developments of 2016 - Talking Drugs
Talking Drugs has produced an interactive map which sets out some of the most important drug policy developments of the past year around the world. Green icons denote developments which move towards an evidence-based approach, while red icons denote developments which move away from an evidence-based approach, or harms that have resulted from the lack of evidence-based policies. Look back on the last year which has included the Psychoactive Substances Act in the UK, legalization of cannabis in several places around the world, and the thousands who have been killed in the Philippines for alleged drug offences.
Commissioning in Crisis: how current contracting and procurement processes threaten the survival of small charities - Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales
Lloyds Bank Foundation has published its report which brings together the experiences of small charities taking part in current commissioning processes. It found that central and local government are using shockingly complicated and inappropriate contracting and commissioning processes to secure vital public services, which in turn leaves charities threatened with closure and the future of public services at risk.