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21.11.2006 For the last 20 years in Balti a significant decrease in the number of drug users was registered; Chisinau now „ranks” first.

For the first time in the municipality of Balti drug use indicators have significantly fallen down over the last two decades.  The number of drug addicts officially registered in Balti this year has reached one thousand people, while the number of drug users in Chisinau is much higher.

According to databases, the official number of registered drug users in Chisinau is four thousand people.  DECA-pess agency informs that non-official number of drug users in Balti has been estimated to nearly ten thousand people, while in Chisinau the indicator amounts to a minimum of forty thousand people.

The head of the Narcologic Service in Balti, Eduard Nenescu, says that this is the first time during the last 20 years when Balti “gives” the leading position to Chisinau in the number of drug users.  Decrease in the number of drug addicts can be explained by the fact that many of those people passed away, others moved out.

The president of the Association „Youth for Right to Life”, Ina Biriukova, asserts in this context that the decrease of the drug users number in the location is explained by the high mortality rates among the drug addicts, but also due to the positive impact of the anti-drug campaigns promoted by different organizations both local and foreign. Moreover, young people especially give up drug use because it is out of fashion today, says Biriukova.

In the Republic of Moldova, according to the data of Narcological Center there are registered 8.5 thousand of drug users, while the Ministry of Internal Affairs operates with the statistics of between 55 and 60 thousand of drug users.
15.08.2006 Sales of Methadone Rise, Along with Overdoses

More doctors are prescribing methadone as a painkiller -- a benefit to some patients but also a trend that is fueling a jump in methadone overdoses and deaths, the Associated Press reported Aug. 13.

Methadone is attractive because it is cheaper than other powerful painkillers, like OxyContin. But experts worry that doctors are not adequately educated about the dangerous drug interactions that can lead to methadone overdoses, which have increased fourfold in recent years.

"I think that physicians who are prescribing methadone for analgesia may not be as completely aware of some of the properties of methadone that create a potential for harm," said Robert Lubran, director of the division of pharmacologic therapies at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Lubran warned that methadone takes longer to work than other medications and stays in the body longer, raising the possibility of drug interactions that can lead to decreased heart rate and blood pressure, possibly resulting in coma or death.

Source http://www.jointogether.org/

14.08.2006 Marijuana may cause pregnancies to fail

Smoking marijuana at the time of conception could cause pregnancies to fail, new research in mice suggests. The same problem may occur as a result of taking the slimming drug, rimonabant.

The warnings come from embryologists who have discovered key factors that govern an embryo’s chances of successful implantation. After fertilisation in humans and mice, the egg faces a perilous path from the place of conception in the fallopian tube down into the womb.

The team from Vanderbilt University Medical Centre, Tennessee, US, has shown that precisely the right levels of a chemical called anandamide are required for this passage to be completed safely. Increasing or decreasing the amount of anandamide drastically harms mouse embryos’ chances of normal implantation and survival.

Their research reveals that anandamide levels in the fallopian tubes are governed by two enzymes: one called NAPE-PLD increases levels of anandamide, while NAAH reduces them.

Cannabinoid receptor

Significantly, the team also found that exposing the mice to certain drugs disrupted this delicate balance, thereby impeding an embryo's ability to pass into the womb. One such substance is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of marijuana.

Like anandamide, it binds to the cannabinoid receptor CB1, thereby displacing anandamide and boosting levels of the chemical present in the oviduct.

The discovery poses worrying questions about the ability of marijuana, the most widely used illegal drug among women of reproductive age, to harm pregnancy, says the lead researcher, Sudhansu Dey.

“This is worrying because embryo retention is a significant cause of ectopic pregnancy in women,” he says. He also notes that the incidence of such abnormal and dangerous pregnancies has risen sharply in the past decade.

Slimming pills

Another expert in reproductive biology, Herbert Schuel at the State University of New York in Buffalo, US, points out that some new medicines also interacted with CB1 receptors and therefore had the potential to disrupt amandine levels and embryo development. One such drug, the slimming pill rimonabant – sold as Acomplia – is already licensed in the UK.

“Given the results of the study, we need to be very sure that rimonabant doesn’t have unwanted effects on women of reproductive age," Schuel says. CB1 receptors are not just present in the brain but all over the body, including the reproductive system, he adds, "so we shouldn’t be surprised if it has unwanted effects".

A spokeswoman for rimonabant’s manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis, said the company did not recommend the use of rimonabant during pregnancy and advised patients who are planning to become pregnant to seek immediate medical advice.

Journal reference: Journal of Clinical Investigation (vol 116, p 2087)

Source http://www.newscientist.com/

11.08.2006 Alcohol Use: international conference "Correlates and Consequences"

The international conference took place at the First Medical Faculty of Charles University in Prague, on June 29th, 2006. The principal speech was given by Dr. Isidor Obot (Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO Geneva).
The one-day conference was organized by the Centre for Addictology and its partners. In addition to the principal speech, leading Czech and Slovak scientists in addictology presented their papers, among them Dr. Lubomir Okruhlica (Slovakia), Prof. Tomas Zima (Dean of the First Medical Faculty, Charles University), and Dr. Ludek Kubicka (Psychiatric Centre Prague).
The conference was opened with welcoming speeches by Prof. Tomas Zima, Dr. Alena Steflova (head of the WHO office in the Czech Republic), and Ms. Nina Janyskova (drug policy coordinator of the capital city Prague). The conference was held under the auspices of the Mayor of Prague, Pavel Bem, and the governor of the Central Bohemia region, Petr Bendl.
The aim of the conference was to introduce a multi-disciplinary view on problems caused by alcohol use. Alcohol, together with tobacco, has been the most widely used drug in the Czech Republic in recent times. The purpose of the presented papers was to show the broad perspective from which the problems caused by alcohol and tobacco should be viewed. It also attempted to draw attention to the fact that current legislation regulating the advertising of alcohol and the laxity of controls on alcohol sales to minors bring much more harm than necessary. Problems connected with the use and misuse of alcohol and tobacco imposes a cost on society that are significantly higher than the social costs of all illegal drugs combined.

Awards for their lifetime contribution in the field of addictology were presented to the doyens of Czech addictology, Dr. Jaroslav Skala and Dr. Ludek Kubicka.

Source http://www.adiktologie.cz/

11.08.2006 Canada's Safe Injecting Program is at Risk

InSite is North Americas first supervised injection site and a landmark public heath initiative operating in Vancouver since 2003. The program is a vital component of that cities internationally recognized harm reduction approach to its serious problems with drugs, crime, homelessness and AIDS. InSite currently operates under a waiver of Federal rules that allow it to provide services as a research project. An extensive evaluation has produced very positive results for thousands of users. Normally such strong evidence documenting the successes of such a program, and the medical and public health significance of these positive outcomes , would be the basis for celebration and moves to expand the model and provide similar services elsewhere in Canada. Instead, there is a distinct possibility that InSite will be closed by the newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Paul Harper - a conservative who has traveled to the US to visit George WQ Bush and come back antagonistic to harm reduction in all its forms. Because InSites federal waiver is expiring and up for renewal in September, the fear is that Mr. Harpers will not renew the approval and that the program will be forced to close down. The risks associated with the potential closure of InSite need to be fully understood . This editorial lays out these public health risks and the associated economic impact if InSite were to be closed. In addition to preventable deaths and disease, InSites closure will cost Vancouver and British Columbia between $3.8 and $ 8.8 million in preventable health care expenses over the next two years.

The complete article is available as a provisional PDF.

Source http://www.harmreductionjournal.com

11.08.2006 Drug-danger 'league table' revealed in United Kingdom

When it comes to danger, cigarettes and alcohol beat ecstasy, LSD and cannabis, according to a league table of the harm they cause.
The UK Science and Technology Select Committee, which advises the government, commissioned an assessment of 20 legal and illegal stimulants to examine the actual social and physical harm they cause based on scientific evidence.
Controlled drugs are currently categorised to reflect the penalties they incur for possession and dealing. The highest category, class A, carries the largest legal penalties and includes heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and magic mushrooms. Class B includes speed and barbiturates, while cannabis and some tranquillisers are in class C.
However, the new league table puts alcohol in the top five most harmful drugs, alongside heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and street methadone. Ecstasy and LSD, currently categorised as class A drugs, come well below both tobacco and alcohol.

“The new league table puts alcohol in the top five most harmful drugs”

The UK drug classification system needs to be overhauled to reflect the harm these substances cause, says the committee. "The government, its advisors and the police are in confusion about the relationship between drug classification and criminal penalties for possession," says committee member Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat MP. "We've made our recommendations to the government and we're very hopeful that they will act."

Drugs and Alcohol - Learn more from the comprehensive special report.

Source http://www.newscientist.com/

26.06.2006 Drug problem closer to the people hearts through the music

More than 500 youngsters, former drug users, artists, public officers, representatives of non-government and international organizations attended a unique unplugged concert held in premier in Chisinau by the Moldovan popular band “Gandul Matei” on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The day of June 26 was celebrated for the first time in Moldova. The event was organized by the regional BUMAD anti-drug programme in Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova , financed by the European Union and UNDP Moldova.

The concert was a combination of live rock music and short movies about former drug users, who recovered from drug dependency and now learned what is the real sense of their life through work, family and children. Some of the video protagonists were present at the concert hall, enjoying the show. The atmosphere on the stage was a special one. Artists were talking with the public and making links between their songs and video snapshots. The song list was selected especially for this event, performing music of various tonalities, from ballades to dance accords. The décor was simple, but not simplistic one: black stage, white walls with the blue waves forming a circle in the centre. The play of lights and a little luminosity of the screen, showing faces of real people, human reports and artistic social video spot on drug problem, made our mind think deeper on the subject.  The reflective message against drug abuse being given through the art of the music came closer to the people hearts. The motto of the concert was “Choose to live!”. The famous vocalist of “Gandul Matei” band, Nicu Tarna, repeated it permanently in a different manner, making indirect public awareness. One slow styled song was accompanied by nice video production: burned candles going down stream. The candle motive, generally, was presented during the whole show symbolizing people who want to live and not to die.

The local partner of the event was the Ministry of Interior Affair, Anti-Drug Department.

This site was elaborated with the support of the programme of assistance for the prevention of drug abuse and drug trafficking in Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova (BUMAD Programme), funded by European Union and co-funded and implemented by UNDP Moldova.

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e-mail: drugs@monitoring.mednet.md