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3rd December 2016

Thirty-eight countries attend 2016 Reitox week in Lisbon

Representatives of candidate, potential candidate and neighbouring countries of the EU are joining members of the EMCDDA’s Reitox network in Lisbon today for the kick-off of the agency’s fifth Reitox week. The purpose of this annual event is to broaden the scope of regular Reitox meetings, underline the importance of the EU drug monitoring model and add impetus to the agency’s technical cooperation with countries outside the EU.

Reitox — the European information network on drugs and drug addiction — was set up in 1993 and is composed of 30 national monitoring centres or national focal points (NFPs) in the 28 EU Member States, Turkey and Norway, as well as a focal point at the European Commission. The NFPs — from which the agency draws the bulk of its data — collect and analyse national information on drugs, drawing on various sectors including health, justice and law enforcement.

The 2016 Reitox week (21–25 November) unites 38 nations including: the current 30 members of the network and a number of beneficiary countries of the European Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The Reitox week encompasses three events: international cooperation project-related meetings; a Reitox ‘extended network’ meeting — this year focusing on ‘Drugs and recreational settings’ — and the regular Heads of focal point meeting. During the extended meeting, experts and researchers from 10 countries (Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Serbia) will share available data on substance use in open-air music festivals and other recreational and nightlife settings. In particular, they will look at the experiences and challenges faced by festival organisers and at existing interventions targeting the consequences of substance use in this context.  A special focus will be placed on prevention strategies and on the evaluation of their effectiveness.

Alexis Goosdeel, EMCDDA Director, says: ‘With this meeting, we aim to gain a deeper understanding of the dimension of problems associated with substance use in specific recreational settings, such as open-air music festivals and nightlife venues. Our discussions this week will help us shed light on the potential, yet often underused, role of local regulators, party organisers and parents' organisations in reducing substance-use-related problems in these settings. They will also help EU and partner countries identify possible steps towards implementing evidence-based interventions to tackle this issue'.

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1st December 2016

Learn about Red Bull’s effects on your body…It leads to addiction

Despite all the health warnings against energy drinks, it seems appreciation for Red Bull has not wavered. Whether it's a boost for work, an energy-kick while driving, or a caffeine high mixed with spirits, millions of people guzzle the canned beverage on a daily basis, without knowing its effects on our bodies.

According to the “Daily Mail” newspaper, this is what happens in our bodies as soon as we drink an energy drink:

 First 10 minutes after finishing a can

The caffeine begins to permeate the bloodstream. In turn, the heart rate and blood pressure start to pick up pace.

15-45 minutes later

If you drink it fast, you'll start feeling more alert and concentrated around 15 minutes later. Slow drinkers may not feel the effects for about 40 minutes

30-50 minutes later

Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.

Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat - of which there is plenty.

1 hour later

Your body starts to experience a sugar crash, as well as the effects of the caffeine dying down, you'll start to feel tired and energy levels will start to feel low. You've also now urinated out all the water that was in the Red Bull. First, however, that water infused with valuable nutrients that your body could have used hydrate your system or strengthen your bone, which were also washed out.

5-6 hours later

It takes this long for the amount of caffeine to halve in your body. For women who take the Pill, it will take 10 hours.

12 hours later

The time that it takes most people to fully remove caffeine from their bloodstream.

The speed at which this happens does depend on many factors from age to activity.

12-24 hours later

Withdrawal symptoms kick in. About a day after you had your caffeine hit, you're in the mood for another. If you have become used to a daily - or more regular - fix, you will start to feel lethargic, distressed, experience headaches and constipation

7-12 days later

Studies have shown this to be the time frame for your body to become tolerant to your regular caffeine dosage. That means you'll get used to it and won't feel the effects as much.

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30th November 2016

Addiction is costing the U.S. 400 billion annually

A report issued by the US Surgeon General warned of alcohol and drugs addiction issues, stating the number of victims in addition to the related financial cost paid by the U.S. which amounts annually about to about 400 billion dollars.

The report, issued by the US Surgeon General under the title "Facing Addiction in the US" states that in 2015 more than 27 million Americans admitted using drugs and abusing prescription drugs, adding that in the same year, 66 million Americans overindulged in alcohol drinking during the previous month.

In 2014, about 30,000 people died as a result of taking high doses of heroin or opiate drugs, and about 20,000 people died from taking unintentionally high doses of alcohol or cocaine or non-opiate drugs.

The report added that the addiction problem to alcohol and drugs in the United States has a significant risk on individuals, families, communities and the economy, and their effects include:

-           Crime and violence related to addiction.

-           Child abuse.

-           Child neglect.

-           Increased costs of health issues related to addiction:

Alcoholism and related diseases cost $ 249 billion annually.

Drug addiction and related diseases cost $ 193 billion annually.

The report also reviewed the health effects of addiction, such as:

-           Alcohol affects mental functions, and increases the risk of car accidents.

-           Excessive drinking can lead to high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis and cancer.

-           Regular use of marijuana is associated with chronic bronchitis.

-           The use of stimulants such as cocaine can lead to heart disease.

The report included several recommendations, stressing the importance of addiction prevention and providing treatment to addicts; the inclusion of addicts’ treatment in health care programs; the expansion of health insurance coverage for Americans which would improve treatment loopholes upon individuals and reduce health care costs upon them and their families.

Moreover, according to the report, studies have shown that investment in addiction treatment reduces the costs associated with criminal justice, child care, educational and social services, and lack of productivity.

The Current US surgeon general is Dr. Vivek Murthy. This position represents the American doctor of the nation, and provides the best available scientific information to the American people about how to improve their health and reduce their risk of illness and injury, according to the official US Surgeon site on the Internet.

The Surgeon General oversees the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and includes a selection of more than 6,700 officers in public health in all parts of the federal government whose mission is to protect, promote and improve the health state of Americans.

The U.S. Surgeon General is nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. The Surgeon General serves a four-year term of office.

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29th November 2016

Statistics: the specter of "addiction" hovers over the Arab region

Egypt

The Fund of Drug Control and Treatment of Addiction and Abuse related to the Ministry of Social Solidarity declared that addiction rate reached about 10% of the population, or about 9 million people, 72% being males and 28% females. The Fund added that 80% of unexplained crimes occur under the influence of drugs.

Experts confirm that these ratios are very high, and constitute double the international rate that amounts to 5%. They attributed this increase to the ease of transfer of narcotics across the border, along with poverty, high unemployment and the despair of young people to secure a decent life.

Hashish and marijuana are among the most prominent types of drugs circulating in Egypt. Their consumption rate accounts to 77%, followed by Tramadol and opium; in addition to morphine derivatives, due to its cheap price and ease of provision.

Lebanon

Lebanon’s Health Minister Wael Abou Faour revealed that the number of drug addicts totaled 24000, while addiction among school students amounted to about 3.5%, with the understanding that the largest percentage of addicts range between 26 and 35 years.

Furthermore, Hashish is among the most prominent types of drugs circulating in Lebanon, which is due mainly to its abundance and the large areas of Hashish cultivation in the Bekaa, followed by Captagon, cocaine and heroin.

Saudi Arabia

Official estimates of the Ministry of Interior reveal that the number of drug addicts totaled 200 000. Among the most prominent types of drugs circulating in the Kingdom are Captagon tablets, cocaine, and heroin. According to the Saudi Ministry of the Interior, about 33% of worldwide Captagon seizures occur in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom also confiscates annually about 60 tons of hashish, and between 50 to 60 kilograms of heroin, worth about 1.2 billion euros.

Oman

The Minister of Health Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Saidi said that the number of addicts exceeded 5100 addict (with a population of 4 million). Among the most prominent types of drugs circulating in the Sultanate are heroin, hashish, qat, morphine, and Tramadol.

Tunisia

The number of addicts in Tunisia amounted to about 311 000 persons, i.e. the proportion of 2.8% of the total population of about 11 million, 70% of whom are below 35 years old.

For its part, the Tunisian Association for the Prevention of Drugs counted more than 500 000 drugs consumers, including about 100 000 cannabis consumers, and 200 000 pills consumers, most notably Subitex a drug made originally for the treatment of heroin addiction, but its misuse is leading to severe addiction, in addition to Captagon and ecstasy. Moreover, there are 20 000 consumers of injected drugs, including "LSD", followed by cocaine and heroin consumers.

Kuwait

The number of drug addicts in Kuwait, is about 70 000, or 7% of the population, according to the World Health Organization’s anti-drug office. Some of the most prevalent types of drugs in Kuwait are hashish, heroin, opium and finally cocaine.

Jordan

The proportion of addicts ranges between 2 and 3 percent, according to unofficial reports. But Joker is the most prevalent recent type of drugs circulating in Jordan. It is a synthetic cannabis manufactured locally with toxic chemicals. The "Jordanian Food and Drug Foundation” confirmed that Joker contains unknown herbs, in addition to highly toxic chemicals most notably fertilizer and pesticides.

Palestine

The "Green Crescent Society" in Palestine announced that the drug phenomenon continues to grow and spread, noting that there are about 80 000 drug users, and about 10 000 addicts, which means that addiction rate is about 0.2% of the total population.

The most used drugs are cannabis and "Hashish", in addition to other types known by Ecstasy and hybrid marijuana which is synthetic marijuana manufactured chemically.

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28th November 2016

Saudi Drug Control: «Lyrica» and «Bricks » pills are not drugs

An anti-drug specialist refused to categorize “Lyrica” and “Bricks” pills as narcotic substances, clarifying that they’re only prescription drugs used in specific psychiatric cases. Even though some people might have misused these pills, they still can’t be considered as narcotics.

The director of Legal Affairs in Drug Control in the city of “Hail”, Colonel Mohamed Bin Radi Aerdan, confirmed that Captagon pills are the worse kind of narcotics because they directly damage the brain. He also added: “in the Hail region two types of drugs are rampant, namely Hashish and Captagon”.

During a lecture given in the first “Kalija-Hail” festival in the Prince Sultan cultural center yesterday, which was held under the direct supervision of the National Commission of Tourism and National Heritage, the colonel refused the allegations that bad environment, education, family or personality are the causes that lead to addiction.

He clarifies that drug addiction consists of three phases; the first is being used to it before reaching addiction, which leads to the third phase known as complete drug dependence. He stresses that any rise in drug price in a country means the drugs are being scarce, adding: “one pill of narcotic is now sold at 60 Riyals, while in 1423 it was sold at 8 Riyals. This is a proof of the fierce war the Ministry of Interior is facing in the fight against drugs”. He considers that Lyrica and Bricks pills that are currently circulating among the young are not narcotics, but a psychological treatment used by many, and stressing that these 2 types of pills are not neither subject to the supervision of the General Administration of Drug Control nor to the Ministry of Health, and that the FDA is the party authorized to follow up on these pills.

Replying to one of the audience’s question, the Colonel clarified that the selling of Lyrica and Bricks pills cannot be prevented in pharmacies because of their therapeutic benefits. Moreover, they are strictly sold under an official prescription from a physician, along with the national ID card. He points out that a strong supervision should be imposed on the manufacturing companies to prevent them from supplying pharmacies with large quantities of these pills.

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27th November 2016

Egypt: 27% of Egyptian drug users are woman

The Fund of Drug Control and Addiction Treatment related to the Ministry of social solidarity, confirmed that 27.4% of drug users in Egypt are women. Omro Othman, the secretary of fund, pointed out that this rate is considered high and must be countered, noting about the prominent role of the family in preventing addiction and encouraging children to have hobbies they like to practice and develop.

Omro Othman said to “yaoum el sabea” newspaper that the center is working in coordination with the Ministry of Education in the preparation of a preventive intervention drug program that reaches the largest number of students during the current academic year. This program will be implemented in 5000 schools.

He confirmed the use of intervention mechanisms for addiction by providing training programs such as life-skill development classes through the implementation of a program called “choose your life”. Social workers are receiving training on this program in order to implement it in schools. Moreover, the final day of the program includes sports and arts festival which will be held in each province, in addition to competitions on all the republic school especially the competition of the best selfie with the “you’re stronger than drugs” poster of the national team’s star player Mohammed Salah.

Communication will be established with students’ parents in each province to raise their awareness on how to protect their children from drugs, especially that family is a safe haven to children, and they will be taught how to early detect addiction, by inviting the board of trustees to convene.

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