28 research outputs found

    Trends in deaths following drug use in England before, during, and after the COVID-19 lockdowns

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    AimThis research aimed to describe how the characteristics of deaths following drug use changed during the COVID-19 pandemic in England, and how this can inform future strategy to support the health and social care of people who use drugs in future emergency scenarios.MethodAll deaths reported to the National Programme on Substance Abuse Deaths which occurred between January 2018 and December 2021 inclusive were extracted for analysis. Exponential smoothing models were constructed to determine any differences between forecasted vs. actual trends.Key resultsFollowing the first lockdown period in England there were significant increases in the proportion of people who died at home beyond the 95% confidence bounds of the exponential smoothing model and concurrent decreases in the proportion of people who died in hospital. Whilst the overall proportion of deaths attributable to opioids did not significantly deviate from the forecasted trend, there were significant increases in methadone-related deaths and decreases in heroin/morphine-related death beyond the 95% confidence bounds. The proportion of deaths concluded as suicide increased, as did those implicating antidepressant use. There were no changes in the proportion of deaths following use of other drug classes, alcohol use in combination with psychoactive drugs, or on decedent demographics (gender, age, and drug user status). A small number of deaths due to drug use had COVID-19 infection itself listed as a cause of death (n = 23).ConclusionFor people who use drugs, the impact of the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic was greater than that of infection from the virus itself. The health and social care strategy for these people needs to be pre-emptively adapted to mitigate against the specific risk factors for fatal drug overdose associated with future emergency scenarios

    A PET-CT study on neuroinflammation in Huntington’s disease patients participating in a randomized trial with laquinimod

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    Microglia activation, an indicator of central nervous system inflammation, is believed to contribute to the pathology of Huntington's disease. Laquinimod is capable of regulating microglia. By targeting the translocator protein, 11C-PBR28 PET-CT imaging can be used to assess the state of regional gliosis in vivo and explore the effects of laquinimod treatment. This study relates to the LEGATO-HD, multi-centre, double-blinded, Phase 2 clinical trial with laquinimod (US National Registration: NCT02215616). Fifteen patients of the UK LEGATO-HD cohort (mean age: 45.2 ± 7.4 years; disease duration: 5.6 ± 3.0 years) were treated with laquinimod (0.5 mg, N = 4; 1.0 mg, N = 6) or placebo (N = 5) daily. All participants had one 11C-PBR28 PET-CT and one brain MRI scan before laquinimod (or placebo) and at the end of treatment (12 months apart). PET imaging data were quantified to produce 11C-PBR28 distribution volume ratios. These ratios were calculated for the caudate and putamen using the reference Logan plot with the corpus callosum as the reference region. Partial volume effect corrections (Müller-Gartner algorithm) were applied. Differences were sought in Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale scores and regional distribution volume ratios between baseline and follow-up and between the two treatment groups (laquinimod versus placebo). No significant change in 11C-PBR28 distribution volume ratios was found post treatment in the caudate and putamen for both those treated with laquinimod (N = 10) and those treated with placebo (N = 5). Over time, the patients treated with laquinimod did not show a significant clinical improvement. Data from the 11C-PBR28 PET-CT study indicate that laquinimod may not have affected regional translocator protein expression and clinical performance over the studied period

    Treatment and Intervention for Opiate Dependence in the United Kingdom:Lessons from Triumph and Failure

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    The history of opiate treatment in the United Kingdom (UK) since the early 1980s is a rich source of learning about the benefits and pitfalls of drug treatment policy. We present five possible lessons to be learnt about how factors outside the clinic, including government, charities and researchers can influence treatment and outcomes. First, do not let a crisis go to waste. The philosophical shift from abstinence to harm reduction in the 1980s, in response to an HIV outbreak in injecting users, facilitated expansion in addiction services and made a harm reduction approach more acceptable. Second, studies of drug-related deaths can lead to advances in care. By elucidating the pattern of mortality, and designing interventions to address the causes, researchers have improved patient safety in certain contexts, though significant investment in Scotland has not arrested rising mortality. Third, collection of longitudinal data and its use to inform clinical guidelines, as pursued from the mid-1990s, can form an enduring evidence base and shape policy, sometimes in unintended ways. Fourth, beware of the presentation of harm reduction and recovery as in conflict. At the least, this reduces patient choice, and at worst, it has caused some services to be redesigned in a manner that jeopardises patient safety. Fifth, the relationship between the third and state sectors must be carefully nurtured. In the UK, early collaboration has been replaced by competition, driven by changes in funding, to the detriment of service provision

    Bipolar disorder and addictions:The elephant in the room

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    SummaryAddictions are highly prevalent in bipolar disorder and greatly affect clinical outcomes. In this editorial, we review the evidence that addictions are a key challenge in bipolar disorder, examine putative neurobiological mechanisms, and reflect on the limited clinical trial evidence base with suggestions for treatment strategies and further developments.</jats:p

    Substance misuse teaching:a patient safety issue

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    AIMS: Clinical substance misuse presentations are commonly managed by Psychiatry Core Trainees (CTs) out of hours. However, specialist teaching is not included in the Maudsley Training Program (MTP) induction. We aimed to investigate whether this was of clinical concern and, if so identify interventions to address it. BACKGROUND: The association of substance misuse disorder and mental illness is widely recognised. The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014 reported that half of people dependent on drugs other than cannabis were receiving mental health treatment. Substance use substantially impacts clinical risk; 57% of patient suicides in 2017 had a history of substance misuse. It also effects emergency psychiatric services: 55-80% of patients detained under S136 are intoxicated. Therefore, it is imperative for patient safety that CTs can assess and manage these patients appropriately. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recognises the need for specialist substance misuse knowledge and skills, and lists this as a key ‘Intended Learning Outcome’ for CTs. Unfortunately, the availability of specialist drug and alcohol service placements for CTs has significantly declined. Only one placement is available per MTP rotation. Teaching is therefore relied upon to gain these competencies. METHOD: Using a cross-sectional survey we explored CTs confidence in recognising and managing substance misuse presentations, knowledge of where to seek guidance and asked for teaching suggestions. We surveyed two CT1 cohorts in 2017 and 2019. RESULT: Fifty-one CTs took the survey. Of these 92% did not feel prepared to manage acute substance intoxication or withdrawal and 96% would like relevant teaching at the start of CT1. Furthermore, 67% did not know where they could seek guidance. CTs felt confident at recognising and managing alcohol related presentations. However, they were less confident in recognising opioid withdrawal, how to safely prescribe opioid substitution therapy (OST), and the usual doses of OST (65%, 94%, 94% rated ‘neither confident nor not confident’ or below, respectively). CTs were not confident at recognising GBL and cannabinoid withdrawal, principles of harm minimisation, assessing readiness to change, delivering Brief Interventions and teaching patients to use Naloxone. CONCLUSION: The results were exceptionally similar between cohorts, demonstrating reliability of our findings and that CTs lack of substance misuse knowledge is a significant clinical concern. To address this deficit of knowledge, we are writing an introductory lecture with supporting guidance in the induction pack, developing an online video resource, and moving key substance misuse lectures to earlier in the MTP taught programme
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