Cornwall Time Credits

April 10th, 2019 by

Members are now able to use their well earned Time Credits to access some exciting new activities in Cornwall including all four WTW Cinemas, Kidzworld in St Austell and over 25 courses at Cornwall College. These exciting offers will give Time Credit members the opportunity to access activities and experiences that may have otherwise been unable to. To find out where else you can spend your Time Credits visit timecredits.com

 

DISC, a group supporting some of the most disadvantaged in Newquay have been using Time Credits to encourage their service users to volunteer and help out at their drop in sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays. We caught up with them last week to talk about Time Credits:

“Time credits have made and are continuing to be a fantastic asset to DISC. Because of Time Credits DISC have motivated people and enabled them to find self-confidence. Time Credits are absolutely amazing and are helping people in recovery to stay on track, they are motivated to go to the gym or go for a swim. By earning Time Credits at DISC people feel useful and encouraged to actually go and look for a job and apply for it.

These Time Credits have given people an incentive to come and volunteer at DISC and to feel useful, loved and appreciated.”

If you know of a group or service who’re working with adults with complex needs we want to hear from you. Contact the Cornwall Network Manager Beth Ward for more details: bethanyward@wearetempo.org | 07578181277

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5000 hours given to the community by Time Credit members

March 11th, 2019 by

Since Time Credits launched in Cornwall 12 months ago, Time Credit members from across the county have been getting involved in their communities and services collectively earning over 5,000 Time Credits!

Through the Time Credit Programme we’ve seen individuals organising community events, supporting and mentoring their peers, volunteering in soup kitchens, food banks and putting their green fingers to work in local community gardens and orchards. Time Credits are proving to be a great tool for community development, supporting and encouraging individuals with complex needs to engage with services, organisations and activities in their wider community.

“’I use Time Credits to go swimming at least once a week and I also use the gym as well. They [Time credits] have given me a chance to get fit and have made a difference to my life.”

 Watch this short film by Aron Williams, a documentary and editorial photographer from Falmouth University, to find out what Time Credits are all about (www.aronrobert.com)

 

 

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Cove Ward: one year on, no one treated out of county

March 11th, 2019 by

A mental health unit in Cornwall is celebrating its first birthday with the news that not a single person an acute mental health condition has had to travel over the Tamar for specialist inpatient care.

Since the 15-bed Cove ward in Redruth opened its doors last March, people are being cared for in the county. The Cove, based at Longreach House in Redruth, is a fast-tracked, psychologically informed rehabilitation unit, and aims to promote a patient-centred, fast-tracked discharge and support patients to return to, and remain well in the community.

It was opened as part of a number of initiatives to address the pressures faced by acute inpatient mental health services, whilst preventing out of county adult acute inpatient mental health services and provide a better service for people.

Dr Paul Cook, Chairman of the Crisis Care Concordat, said: “It is an amazing achievement that no one with an acute mental health condition has needed to travel out of Cornwall to receive care for an acute mental health condition since 1 April 2018.

“The Cove Ward is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when people from across health and care work together to look after people and provide care nearer to their homes and families.

“Vulnerable people are now receiving the very best care closer to home, helping to prepare them for independent living and a return to the community.

“We know this approach has better outcomes for people’s recovery.

“This is ahead of the Government’s deadline and puts Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly well ahead of the majority of other health care systems in the country. Everyone working in Cornwall’s health and care system should be rightly proud of this achievement.”

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Safer Towns One Year On

March 8th, 2019 by

Our Safer Towns Scheme, developed and coordinated by our Community Safety Team, facilitates and supports a coordinated multi-agency approach to community safety issues, to improve feelings of safety and public reassurance, reduce the risk of harm to the community and protect vulnerable groups. The partnerships work to reduce and prevent crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. The scheme was launched last April with full governance developed for each of the towns which include; Penzance, Camborne and Redruth, Falmouth, Truro, Newquay, St Austell, Bodmin, Saltash and Liskeard. The team have successfully established the new Safer Towns and broadened the remit of the three Safer Towns which were already in existence.

An enormous amount of work has taken place over the last year to establish partnership arrangements and develop delivery plans based on crime information provided by our Amethyst Team through Town Profiles and feedback from the Cornwall Council Residents Survey.  New Town Profiles have recently been provided to the Safer Towns with delivery plans for 2019/20 being developed currently to account for changes in crime trends and also emerging issues for next year.

The scheme was supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) with £5,000 allocated to each town. Partners have reviewed priorities and put forward proposals for how the funding should be spent locally. There are a number of new exciting projects, campaigns and outcomes which have been delivered in 2018/19 and will be put in place during 2019/20 through the support of the PCC.

All Safer Towns meet on a regular basis to share current intelligence, raise concerns and deal with emerging dynamic issues collectively. A key factor in the success of the scheme is the wide membership of the groups, which include; public, private and voluntary organisations; who are able to feed in local intelligence and local issues. Each town is unique with different community safety priorities, however there have also been a number of initiatives which have been rolled out through all the Safer Towns.

A shoplifting prevention briefing presented by Devon and Cornwall Police’s Crime Prevention Officer has been organised for all Safer Towns, this provides practical information to local businesses and security teams of how to protect themselves from thefts. It also included information on evidence collection and the process around this. We received positive feedback from the sessions run to date and look to run more sessions in the future.

Blue Light Training has been provided to three pilot towns across the County; Penzance, St Austell and Bodmin. Blue Light supports individuals who are change resistant, problematic drug and alcohol users not engaged with treatment, regularly presenting to emergency services. A multi-agency meeting in each of the towns will provide a mechanism to discuss individuals on a regular basis to collectively provide full support.

A large focus for a number of the towns has been concerns around street drinking and vulnerable individuals; awareness work to ensure the public and communities are aware of local support and who to report concerns to has been extremely important in ensuring the right agencies are informed. Multi-agency walkabouts has been effective in providing reassurance to the public and businesses, targeting specific areas where we have been receiving complaints/concerns raised.

Brief overview of a few of the key initiatives which have been delivered in the towns;

  • Agreement to develop and open a town centre community safety hub accessible to the public in Penzance. The lease has been secured by Cornwall Council Nov 2018. Fire Safety assessment and remedial work in progress.
  • A 12 month pilot has been jointly funded by Penzance Town Council and Cornwall Council for an ASB Caseworker specific to Penzance. This post will be recruited to in March.
  • Agreed siting of two sharps bins in the Camborne both bins will be funded from the PCC Safer Town seed funding.
  • Safer Camborne and Safer Redruth have facilitated a review of local service provision for young people in the area. It has identified the need for a youth café in the Redruth area which will provide a safe space for local young people to go. This is still in the planning process; Safer Towns funding for Redruth will contribute to the opening of Redruth Youth Café, the facility will open in September 2019
  • In Redruth, Police and Community Safety staff are piloting monthly joint surgeries for the public regarding ASB concerns
  • Safer Camborne, Safer Redruth and Safer Penzance have held awareness days in each of the towns in order to promote activity regarding anti-social behaviour and crime to reassure public and raise awareness of partnership working in the area;
  • Shop Watch has been introduced to businesses in Redruth and Camborne, which allows shop staff to communicate with each other with the aim to reduce shoplifting by identifying prolific offenders. This is still in its infancy but training from the police prevention officer will be commencing in early 2019.
  • Safer Falmouth provided information to members of the public at Gyllyngvase Beach following public safety concerns. The events were held to provide awareness of the risk to others from leaving barbeques on the beach, as well as the harmful environmental impact.
  • Following an incident of drink spiking Safer Falmouth ran an awareness campaign to local residents. The partnership provided leaflets to households throughout Falmouth outlining how to keep safe whilst drinking as well as offering safety equipment for bottles. Falmouth University and Exeter University also provided awareness to students on the What Will Your Drink Cost campaign.
  • Truro Safe have conducted two walkabouts throughout the City, providing businesses with key contact information, as well as the opportunity to raise any concerns and find out about the work of the partnership.
  • Following concerns of access for emergency services due to poorly parked vehicles blocking roads within Killigrew Gardens, St Erme, Truro Safe; led by Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, implemented the Think Before You Park initiative. Partners visited households throughout the area and left leaflets highlighting the responsibility drivers have to ensure that roads are accessible and the implications, if this is not considered, on emergency service response.
  • Truro Safe continues to have donation boxes available throughout the City which supports those within the City who are homeless. The partnership was pleased to provide sleeping bags and fund two outreach worker packs using the latest donations from members of the public.
  • Safer St Austell visited residents of St Blazey in August to discuss local issues following concerns that had been made and provide information on support available. Residents reiterated their concerns; which included noise nuisance. The walkabout was successful with approximately 27 households engaged. The partnership also spoke to young people in the community to understand what concerns they have and how these may be addressed. The partnership will be looking into the feedback that was provided and potential changes that could be made, which could positively impact on the issues faced by the community.
  • Further work needed to take place regarding public perception of crime within St Austell; Safer St Austell has updated the Communications Plan to take account of this priority. The objectives continue to be to promote successes and the work of the partnership, target engagement to best address concerns of safety and ensure negative concerns are addressed swiftly and effectively. The group have increased articles for local publications and the website along with social media posts. They have also updated the Community Action Days calendar for 2018/19 to promote the work of the partnership and support services including a very successful Sleep Out Event which raised awareness of homelessness. A new scheme was also introduced following this event to support the local homeless charity and promote signposting.
  • Safer Bodmin has received a full briefing on current county lines activity in the Town from the Police Intelligence Directorate. The group has prioritised raising public awareness of this complex crime and will focus on vulnerability and building resilience.
  • Mapping the services available in Bodmin against the nine reducing reoffending pathways is underway. Once any gaps have been identified it is Safer Bodmin’s ambition to influence and potentially fund services to meet the local needs.
  • Safer Bodmin have supported the Berryfields Community Centre and agreed to contribute towards the funding of this vital youth provision in the town. Planning is also underway on a youth focused event with the Bodmin Watch; this event will be based on the Junior Life Skills events and will incorporate an art work competition with the pupils from Bodmin College.  Additionally, during March 2019 Safer Bodmin will run a survey with pupils from Bodmin College to seek their views on community safety in the town and what activities they engage with and would want to see in Bodmin.  The results of this survey will inform future plans for 2019.20.
  • In Saltash there have been a number of sessions delivered to pupils and parents of Saltash.net School to raise awareness about drug misuse. These have included sessions on the impact of drug use from the police as well as harm reduction / mental health education delivered from YZUP (young persons’ substance misuse service). Safer Saltash have been working closely with Saltash.net secondary school and have recently supported their BeWell whole school drop down day focused on mental wellbeing.
  • Safer Saltash have met with the Tamar Bridge Committee to discuss the issue of people completing suicide off the Tamar Bridge. Further work in partnership with the Committee will now take place with a focus on suicide prevention. Additionally, a recent presentation at a Safer Saltash meeting from the Public Health Healthy Promotions team resulted in a decision by the group to offer a ‘Suicide Talk’ (3 hours) to a multi-disciplined group in Saltash focusing on businesses and community groups (up to 90 delegates).  Following on from this, a core group will be identified and trained in ASIST (2 days) and become Suicide First Aiders.
  • Safer Saltash identified ASB as a priority area; the group have focused on this and supported the Core’s successful OPCC bid for ‘The Friday Night Project’ and provided funding for the Saltmill initiative for young people.  Saltash has a current seasonal issue with tombstoning and work is underway to revise a leaflet containing safety advice on tombstoning and letters have been sent from Safer Saltash to Network Rail regarding concerns over access to the Network Rail owned pillar where young people are tombstoning from.  The group have also agreed to part fund a body worn camera for the local ASB caseworker.  The group are also exploring the opportunity for the Town and Waterfront Wardens to be granted Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS) powers.
  • Safer Liskeard has made an evidence based decision to purchase a needle disposal unit to be located outside the Town Council owned Sungirt Toilets. A local arrangement has been reached with regards to the safe emptying and disposal of the clinical waste and signage and comms are currently being developed to support this initiative.
  • Safer Liskeard supported National Domestic Abuse week and held a successful public engagement event at Liskeard Community Hospital on 30th November 18. The Healthy Relationships Programme has been delivered in Liskeard Secondary School and the group will be utilising some of the OPCC funding to purchase mobile phones and personal attack alarms for Domestic Abuse victims in the town.  These crime prevention/safety resources will be managed by the IDVA locally.
  • The Safer Liskeard team have identified Castle Park as an area for environmental improvement activity and have conducted a site visit to the area. This activity aims to promote residents taking pride in their town whilst improving feelings of safety and will complement the soon to be reformed ‘Friends of Castle Park’ group.  The work will include targeted multi-agency outreach; consultation with residents; fundraising for play equipment; organised activities in the park; a link to the Time Credits project and CRC unpaid work involvement in remedial work in the park.

What’s coming up?

  • Blue Light Scheme to be implemented across all towns;
  • Specialist Youth Programme led by our Phoenix Team developed to support young people involved with crime and potentially deter them through engagement;
  • Community Action Days to be completed for 2019 including a youth engagement event in Bodmin, joint Engagement events with the OPCC in all Safer Towns and walkabouts within most of the Safer Towns;
  • Initial scoping work is now taking place for a diversity festival in Bodmin to celebrate multi-cultural food and music. The purpose of this work is to build community resilience, break down barriers and promote cohesion.
  • Safer Liskeard will have a community safety stand at Liskeard Community Fair on Saturday 30th March; and Safer Saltash will be at the Saltash Regatta. These events will involve all partners and the OPCC road show van and will be a fantastic opportunity to engage with residents and to understand their needs in relation to crime, disorder and community safety.
  • Truro Safe signage to be fitted at various locations across Truro, providing information on support services;
  • Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence campaign for Truro to be piloted;
  • A number of campaigns to be developed in Newquay including; drug litter, thefts, water safety concerns;
  • Review of noise nuisance complaints 2018 and contact procedure for complaints for Falmouth;
  • working with Heartlands (Pool) business manager, residents and partner agencies to set up a Residents Community Safety Group;
  • young people’s services networking event to be held in Camborne
  • a focus on business engagement and training in Penzance
  • Mobile CCTV camera usage being investigated in Penzance and Redruth.
  • a focused countywide campaign to encourage reporting of crime and ASB to the appropriate numbers

We want to thank all the partners who have been involved with the schemes and continue to support the work of the partnership. If you would like to find out more about a particularly Safer Town please visit https://safercornwall.co.uk/safer-towns/ or email communitysafety@cornwall.gov.uk.  Please follow East Cornwall Community Safety Officer on Twitter here  https://twitter.com/LucyAllison_CSO

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New on-island mental health service for the Isles of Scilly

March 8th, 2019 by

A nurse on the Isles of Scilly is providing a one stop mental health shop approach to reduce the number of trips people have to make to the mainland to manage their condition.

Jenny Candy has been employed as the islands’ dedicated senior mental health and community psychiatric nurse to give people the help they need on the islands, and reduce the number of people being admitted to hospital.

She will work alongside community groups, schools, GPs and businesses to help raise awareness about the support that’s available to islanders, and provide therapeutic services such as talking therapies to enhance the support that is already available.

This is the first time in history that Scillonians have had access to this type of mental health service based on-islands.

People will now only have to travel to the mainland if they need specialist acute mental health support.

Jenny’s post has been jointly commissioned by the Council of the Isles of Scilly and NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, funded through the Better Care Fund, and is provided by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFPT) and Outlook South West.

Councillor Adrian Davis, lead member for adults, said: “We are delighted to welcome Jenny, and know she will make a really valuable contribution to the health and wellbeing of Scillonians.

“We would like to thank residents who worked with the commissioners for their courage, honesty and generosity in describing their experiences which led to this dedicated post.

“The Council of the Isles of Scilly, the NHS, and Healthwatch Isles of Scilly have been working for a long time to secure this service, and we are delighted to see things come to fruition.”

Jenny’s work will ensure that there is a one stop shop approach for people experiencing poor mental health or at risk of hitting crisis point. She will work with colleagues in the health centre, hospital, social care, police and ambulance service, along with key employers to improve people’s emotional wellbeing.

She will work with adults with a range of wellbeing concerns, ranging from dementia, anxiety and depression.

Dr Paul Cook, NHS Kernow’s clinical lead for mental health, said: “I am really pleased that by working together we have been able to secure a dedicated nurse for the Isles of Scilly to support people to manage their mental health and help them avoid reaching crisis point.

“Being able to provide care closer to home and avoid unnecessary lengthy journeys to the mainland for support will have a really positive impact on people’s health and wellbeing.”

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Safer Cornwall Training Programme 2019-20

March 6th, 2019 by

Accessible training to help identify risk, reduce harm and support people in the process of change.

The DAAT offers a range of training opportunities to improve knowledge, skills, awareness and joint working across a range of areas, particularly mental health. The courses are available to internal and external staff and run throughout the year.

 

 

We offer the following courses:

  • Alcohol Identification and Brief Advice
  • Basic Drug Awareness
  • Connect 5 Mental Wellbeing Stage 1
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Mental Health First Aid
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Time Credits and Supporting Asset Based Working
  • Young People’s Substance Awareness & Screening

For more information please visit our page here

Email: DAATevents@cornwall.gov.uk

Telephone: 01726 223400

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Coercive control is domestic abuse

November 29th, 2018 by

Controlling or coercive behaviour was criminalised in 2015 – but it still affects hundreds of thousands of women in the UK.

Mumsnet, Women’s Aid and Surrey Police have joined together to help raise awareness of the dangers of coercive control.

A new survey found 38% of Mumsnet users have suffered some form domestic abuse.

If you live in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly and you think you or someone you know is being controlled by their partner of family member, you can get help now.

  • Call Safer Futures on 0300 777 4 777

or

  • follow this link https://www.firstlight.org.uk/make-a-referral/
  • 24-hour National Domestic Violence Helpline (run by Women’s Aid and Refuge) – 0808 2000 247.
  • If you fear for your immediate safety, or someone else’s, please call 999.

No one needs to live in fear. Get help now!

 

 

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Award Winning Mind & Body

November 8th, 2018 by

The Self Harm prevention programme ‘Mind and Body’, delivered by Addaction Young Peoples’ team, YZUP, has won the Innovation in CYPMH at the National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards .

MAB was shortlisted for the award and then was competing against Hampshire CAMHS – New Forest Team. –  Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and The Emotionally Healthy Schools (EHS) Programme –  Cheshire & Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

 

Winning this award will give MAB even more publicity and enable it to be showcased to other areas – hopefully resulting in  more YP who are experiencing Self Harm receiving early intervention.

The Mind and Body programme, commissioned by NHS Kernow and delivered by professionals from substance misuse and mental health charity Addaction, has won the Innovation in Children and Young People’s Mental Health award at the National Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards.

Vivien Hughes, Addaction manager from the Young Person’s Substance Misuse Service (YZUP), said: “We were delighted to be shortlisted in this category and we were up against two NHS trusts who had also been nominated, so a very competitive category. When they read out our name we were blown away. Of course we are immensely proud.”

This latest award makes it a hat trick of wins for the Mind and Body programme as last year we also won two other national awards from the Royal Society for Public Health, winning the Public Mental Health and Wellbeing Award as well as the overall Public Health Minister’s Award for our work around adolescent self-harm. The awards are great recognition for our staff and have strengthened our resolve to expand delivery so we can reach more people.

“Our most recent award also contributes to the overall recognition of the quality of the service, the importance of young people having access to early mental health intervention but also the achievement of staff and the talented people working within the service.”

The programme was first designed and delivered by Addaction Young People services in Kent, before funding was obtained through NHS England to enable it to be offered in Cornwall.

Last year, NHS Kernow agreed to provide funding to deliver the programme to run in community settings so that it could be offered right across the county.

“NHS Kernow can see the very real value of this type of early intervention. Evaluation of the programme has demonstrated a reduction in self-harming thoughts and action and also highlighted the benefits gained including improved emotional wellbeing, communication and engagement at school.”

Young people are referred into the programme, complete an assessment, and then are offered a series of interactive group sessions and one-to-ones that encourage open discussion about mental health and related issues.

These groups are a safe place to talk about topics that are often stigmatised. Young people are able to explore thoughts and actions in relation to self-harm, looking at why risks are taken and how to reduce them, and help develop communication, self-expression and assertiveness skills. It aims to provide students with strategies to reduce their risk-taking behaviour, improve their emotional wellbeing, and build life-long emotional resilience strategies.

A student from Cornwall, who is referred to only as Adam to protect his identity, said about the service:

“The programme gives me a way of expressing how I feel, to talk about mental health and say ‘I’m not ok’ and know others struggle too.”

The ceremony was held at Liverpool football club

YZUP are our commissioned young peoples’ service, delivering education, prevention and treatment services for young people across Cornwall & Isles of Scilly.

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Mental health service maps

September 21st, 2018 by

“Research by Safer Cornwall in 2016 showed a need for a clear guide about referring individuals to mental health services.  These maps were developed in order to assist Safer Cornwall services when making referrals or signposting individuals to mental health services in Cornwall.

These maps show:

  • Primary and secondary mental healthcare services including which conditions they treat and how to contact them
  • Details of other community mental health services including services for veterans
  • Details of specialist community safety services for drug and alcohol misuse and domestic abuse and sexual violence
  • A mini guide of what a good quality referral to mental health services should include.

The maps have been tested by service representatives and are now available to be shared within and across services in Cornwall.  These maps will be updated periodically as service delivery changes but please contact us if you notice any content which needs changing.”

To view the Service Maps click below

Library – Strategies and Evidence
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Alprazolam (Xanax) – What are the Facts?

July 30th, 2018 by

Public Health England briefing

Over the past year, there has been increasing media coverage about alprazolam (typically referred to by the brand name Xanax), highlighting what is being seen as a rise in the number of young people using it. Most of the media reports have described individual cases or reports from treatment services, and there has been little discussion of the research evidence or the actual data.

As with all media coverage which highlights potential changes in drug trends, there is a risk that the evidence isn’t clearly presented or even available, and that raising the profile of a particular drug can inadvertently increase interest from some drug users.

What is alprazolam?

Alprazolam is a medicine in the benzodiazepine family of drugs. Benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia, and they are also prescribed to control seizures caused by epilepsy.

The most frequently prescribed benzodiazepine in the UK is diazepam, known by the tradename Valium. In comparison, alprazolam is a faster acting drug and is about 10 times stronger, meaning that it can rapidly cause feelings of sedation.

Like other benzodiazepines, alprazolam can cause problems when taken without medical supervision. In the short term, its misuse can cause over-sedation, collapsing and overdose. Longer-term use can lead to physical dependence and severe withdrawal upon reducing or stopping use.

Furthermore, taking any benzodiazepine with alcohol and/or other drugs increases the risk of harm. This is particularly the case when benzodiazepines are mixed with other sedative drugs.

Alprazolam is not available from the NHS, but can be obtained on a private prescription in the UK. Illicit alprazolam, normally in the form of counterfeit Xanax tablets, can be bought from street level drug markets and is also available to purchase from illegal websites and social media apps.

What is being said about alprazolam (Xanax)?

There have been a growing number of personal stories reported in the media, often about young people who have developed problems with alprazolam (Xanax), as well as anecdotal reports that they are self-medicating for anxiety issues.

There have also been discussions around alprazolam in political circles. In January this year, the MP Bambos Charalambous led the first debate in the House of Commons to discuss its misuse.

Sometimes, the use of alprazolam (Xanax) is portrayed in the media as a major epidemic among young people. There is currently no evidence of this, but, as we explain further down, there is some evidence that prevalence is increasing. It is important to understand that patterns of drug use change over time. Some drugs rapidly emerge but then their use quickly declines, other drugs persist and cause significant and sustained harm. It is currently too early to know which category alprazolam will fall into.

What do we know about alprazolam use?

As the media coverage of alprazolam continues, PHE has been asked to comment, particularly on trends. There is some evidence to suggest that use is a growing problem, particularly among young people and young adults. However, the data we have does not give a clear picture of the prevalence of alprazolam use, as some of these data cover all benzodiazepines and not alprazolam specifically, making it more difficult to detect changes in use.

Preliminary hospital admission data in England for 2017 indicates that there has been an increase in the number of people aged under 20 admitted to hospital with benzodiazepine poisoning. Over the same period, enquiries to the National Poisons Information Service about the treatment of alprazolam poisoning have increased substantially. PHE has examined UK police seizures data for drugs that were submitted for forensic analysis, which showed that the number of alprazolam seizures was far greater in 2017 than in previous years, increasing from fewer than ten seizures in 2016 to over 800 in 2017.

Many of the Xanax tablets available on illicit markets are not of pharmaceutical grade, but are in fact counterfeit. This is a major concern because these counterfeit products may contain very variable amounts of alprazolam, making it hard for drug users to decide how much to take. Counterfeit Xanax has also been shown to sometimes contain other drugs and/or potentially dangerous adulterants.

Information we have received from TICTAC, a drug analysis laboratory, has confirmed that samples produced to look like real Xanax tablets actually contained other drugs such as etizolam, which is another benzodiazepine linked to a large number of deaths in Scotland. TICTAC also found that ‘fake’ tablets that did contain alprazolam varied greatly in strength, with some tablets having more than 10 times the normal dose of an authentic Xanax tablet.

The unpredictability of dose can be very dangerous to drug users who will not be able to judge how much alprazolam (or other substituted drugs) the tablets contains until after they have consumed it and are experiencing harmful effects.

What is being done and what should be done?

What PHE is doing

At PHE, we’ve been looking at all national data and other intelligence to try to get a better understanding of alprazolam use in England. We are also talking to experts and others to build a clearer picture.

Our locally based PHE Centre teams are working closely with local authorities, providing them with data, guidance and other bespoke support to help them assess local treatment need, and commission services to meet that need. This may include specific support for those misusing alprazolam depending on the size of the problem in their area.

We are piloting Report Illicit Drug Reactions (RIDR), an online reporting system for harm caused by illicit drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances (NPS). This system also captures the harms caused by misused medications, such as alprazolam.

When new drugs or patterns of use emerge, the particular health consequences associated with them may not always be fully understood at first. For example, the bladder problems caused by ketamine were not originally recognised until different treatment services began to join the dots and find the link between the two. RIDR seeks to speed up the identification of harms, so that health and treatment services can rapidly deliver the most appropriate interventions. PHE encourages frontline staff to use RIDR to report clinical harms they are seeing in their local areas. This helps build a better understanding of the emerging problems and their geographical distribution.

PHE holds a quarterly clinical network meeting with experts on new drugs and emerging drug trends, which provides the opportunity to discuss data from RIDR, the latest NPS-related research, and other sources. After each meeting, we update the RIDR dashboard to log current issues and concerns. Alprazolam has featured on the dashboard since September 2017.

What are we doing in Cornwall & Isles of Scilly?

Our treatment services have responded to this emerging pattern of use by learning more, training their staff, producing information for young people, raising awareness of the problem locally, and offering advice, support and treatment to young people having problems.

Drug Watch, an information network, put together a briefing on alprazolam for professionals and the public (see below) which we are disseminating.

We seek to ensure that staff working in services in contact with vulnerable groups are well-informed; and support the development of appropriate responses.

It is especially important that any local communications to professionals and young people are proportionate so that they raise awareness and knowledge without driving up interest and drug-seeking.

Download PDF FileAlprazolam Infosheet DrugWatch

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Safer Cornwall are a working partnership involving: