JUST SAY KNOW DRUG EDUCATION ROUNDUP – February 2022

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Welcome to the Just Say Know monthly roundup! Here, our Just Say Know intern, Matthew Aragón ’16, will be sharing the latest in drug education and harm reduction each month.

Congrats on making it through the shortest month of the year! In case you missed it, here is a collection of February’s news in drug education and research.

We acknowledge that the war in Ukraine has been challenging to hear and read about, at best. For those of us who want to help and have the ability to do so, please consider supporting the crowdfunding efforts of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) who are collecting funds to support People Who Use Drugs in Ukraine. Remember to care for yourself during times like these. Here is an NPR article with some advice on avoiding “doomscrolling.

 

Research Updates

Psychedelics

A recent placebo-controlled, dose–response study, published in Addiction Biology, evaluated the effects of “microdosing” LSD. Researchers found that “within the context of a controlled setting and a limited number of administrations, repeated low doses of LSD are safe, but produce negligible changes in mood or cognition in healthy volunteers.” The news story from The University of Chicago Medicine can be found here.

 

Another recent study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, evaluated the efficacy and safety of psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy for the treatment of major depressive disorder 12 months after treatment. The authors concluded that their “findings demonstrate that the substantial antidepressant effects of psilocybin-assisted therapy may be durable at least through 12 months following acute intervention in some patients.” The full news release from the JHU School of Medicine can be found here.

 

In an article published in Filter, Kyle Jaeger details the DEA’s plans to add five novel psychedelic tryptamine substances — 4-HO-DiPT, 5-MeO-AMT, 5-MeO-MiPT, 5-MeO-DET, and DiPT — to Schedule I of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. After receiving nearly 600 public comments on the DEA’s proposal, the DEA’s administrative court agreed to hold hearings on the matter before the ban can be enacted. The DEA is required to submit a prehearing statement by March 28, 2022.

Cannabis

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently issued a notice encouraging researchers to file “grant applications on the effects of changing cannabis laws and policies in the US and globally on public health.” The news story in Marijuana Moment can be found here.

 

In a recent statement reviewing the impacts of cannabis use on brain health, The American Heart Association voiced concerns about cannabis’s “potential long-term effects on cognitive function,” and advocated for increased research on and awareness of the effects of cannabis on cognition. The full news release from The American Heart Association can be found here.

Overdose Prevention

Phoenix Beck McGreevy and Andrzej Celinski’s article in Filter, ”As People Who Use Drugs, We Are the Safer Supply Experts—Not Physicians,” argues against some physicians’ critiques of safe supply programs and calls for the acceptance and implementation of non-medicalized models of safer supply in Canada.

 

A recent research study published in Harm Reduction Journal looked at some “barriers and facilitators” of implementing drug checking, specifically within a harm reduction organization and syringe service program based in Boston, Massachusetts. The authors concluded that “Future research on policy change to reduce the criminalization of substance use or to provide explicit legal frameworks for the provision of this and other harm reduction services may be merited.” They also added, “The flexibility and adaptability of community drug checking services, even during pandemic circumstances, suggest promise for improving knowledge of opaque drug markets for safer consumption, expanding overdose prevention, and better linking [people who use drugs] to care.” The news story in NC State News can be found here.

 

A recent analysis by the Standford-Lancet Commission on the North American Opioid Crisis outlines some of “the causes of, and solutions, to the opioid crisis.” The authors cite poor regulation of the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, as well as insufficient government funding for substance use programs and research, as contributing factors. Solutions recommended by the commission include increased funding for the implementation of evidence-based, permanently established systems for responding to the issue, in addition to encouraging research and innovation in this area. The news story in The Hill can be found here.

 

In a statement to the Associated Press regarding the legality of safe consumption facilities, the Department of Justice indicated that it may allow them, stating: “Although we cannot comment on pending litigation, the Department is evaluating supervised consumption sites, including discussions with state and local regulators about appropriate guardrails for such sites, as part of an overall approach to harm reduction and public safety.”


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Interested in learning more about how SSDP approaches drug education? Check out our Just Say Know Peer Education program, and contact vilmarie@ssdp.org with questions.