Heroin Assisted Treatment is coming but will it reduce drug harms?

A person using spoon and syringe in consuming illegal substance

Increasingly it seems, politicians, media columnists and other opinion leaders support further liberalisation of recreational drug use. The Utopia they seek is to rid society of the drug pushers and the cartels. The mess drug use creates in any society is unpleasant to say the least and when things are at their worst it is then, in moral panic, we move; creatively, innovatively with much less resistance towards other ways to address the problem. The War on Drugs was lost …

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Covid. It hasn’t gone away you know…

virus, corona, pandemic

After nearly 3 years of dodging it, this week, I have succumbed to Covid. I woke up on Wednesday with a headache. I was able to function ok that morning, but when I met my wife for lunch, a wave of nausea hit me as soon as I bit into my first chip. That night I had aches and pains all over my body, especially in the lower back. Then there was the tiredness and alternating shivers and sweating. Luckily …

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Rishi Sunak and the Science and politics of Covid19…

text

The Spectator got great publicity for its interview last week with Rishi Sunak.  The Spectator’s lockdown-sceptical editor Fraser Nelson sees his interview with Rishi as a coup being the first, in advance of a public inquiry into Covid19, to suggest that democracy wasn’t working well during Covid19 and that too few unelected scientists were alone in deciding and making policy. Superficially it all sounds as if Rishi was against lockdowns just unable to influence things even though he was the …

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The depressing facts about depression treatment…

Shot made while filming for yesHEis project

Clinical depression is a very serious mental condition bringing untold misery to millions and, being strongly linked to suicide, depression, if not properly managed can be fatal and too often is. Yet we are not good it seems at managing clinical depression and it’s not really anyone’s fault rather it’s a failure in a systems approach that has attempted to standardise treatment, something generally good in itself, but in depression, sadly, maybe making things worse. The paradigm of current management …

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With an update vaccine just licensed where are we now with Covid19?

What now? | Follow on Instagram: @timmossholder

Back in February when England dared to introduce its “living with Covid19” policy – the first of the UK regions to do so – they were accused of risking the lives of thousands, perhaps millions. At that time, supposedly more sensible, less reckless, leaders in the other UK regions, including N. Ireland, said they would not play “covid-roulette” with the lives and wellbeing of their citizens. Most sensible people back then were livid with the English policy and rightly so …

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Looping around old tropes is a denial of service to youth who hanker for meaningful change

fire, pot, historical

Fionnuala O’Connor asks an interesting and usefully realist question in today’s Irish News: Is Michelle O’Neill expected to say IRA violence was unjustified? Fionnuala’s conclusion: history is not that simple. When you join modern Sinn Féin you conjoin with what was at the time an unpopular campaign of violence that to its many thousand victims was out of whack with any supposed provocation. It did, as Fionnuala says, no one any good. But for the purposes of the growth of Sinn …

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When the NHS is found lacking, think “Vive La France!”

eiffel tower, love, hands

A constant burning pain in my chest woke me from a deep sleep around 5 a.m. I got up and walked to the bathroom, tripping over my suitcase and wakening my sleeping wife. Standing in the bathroom I hoped the pain might lessen but it stubbornly remained. I had had some chest pain and was breathless walking back from the restaurant the evening before. Biarritz has a steep incline up from its roaring surf beaches but the pain had eased …

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Revisiting Nuclear Power : Part 2 : The Danger

A couple of weeks back, I wrote a little about how governments are reconsidering their attitude to nuclear power, and talked about the mechanics of how a reactor works and how it can solve the problems of getting us to net zero carbon emissions and securing energy supply in the long term.  But we can’t gloss over the bad reputation that nuclear power has. Can’t it blow up, like a nuclear bomb ? And haven’t there been a number of …

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Obesity shows us what is being done to people, not what people are doing to themselves…

McDo fries

When I have more time, I plan to write about the generally woeful state of public health in Northern Ireland. In the meantime, John Burn-Murdoch writing in the FT has some interesting views on the subject of obesity: Over the past 50 years, no country has reversed the trend of rising obesity. It seems increasingly likely that one reason for this is that public (and policy) understanding of its drivers is woefully outdated, meaning that most proposed remedies — such …

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Turkey Teeth and Harem Hair, Is medical tourism lengthening our waiting lists?

Galata view from the Golden Horn

I had a short trip back to Istanbul this June. When I last visited in 2016 I had cause for concern. My concern was, it seems, ill-founded and poorly judged and my hopes that things would improve were granted. In 2016 there had been an attempted military coup and since then things generally have gotten worse; an economic crisis in Turkey created by the financial ignorance of its for-life president Tayyip Erdogan, the proximity to a tragic war in Ukraine …

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The frustration of GPs leaving us hanging on the telephone…

pavement, association, mobile

Philip O’Neill is a retired Civil Servant from Belfast. I am a big supporter of our doctors, nurses and health care staff and I am very aware of them having to make do with fewer and fewer resources. However, I was not fully aware of the implications of recent decisions on phone preferences rather than face to face consultations. This did not hit home until I had cause to call my local surgery. I had an ongoing issue for which …

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Have You Heard? My experience of hearing aids…

euro, hand, hearing aid

One of the GOOD things in the National Health Service in Northern Ireland is the Audiology Department. It probably takes some time to get an initial appointment these days but, let’s face it, being hard of hearing is not life- threatening; irritating, yes, especially for people around you, but it isn’t going to kill you unless, of course, you are standing with your back to an oncoming electric car. Becoming aware of the affliction begins with complaining that the actors …

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Experts believe up to 150k people in Northern Ireland infected with Covid last week…

omicron, virus, corona

I imagine like me, you know loads of people who have had Covid recently, it really is doing the rounds. Given how virulent it is I have been surprised it has not burned itself out by now. From the Belfast Telegraph: According to the Department of Health’s daily dashboard on Tuesday, there were 417 Covid occupied hospital beds and a not insignificant 2,605 new cases of the virus diagnosed. Experts believe the actual infection rate is significantly higher than the …

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Will we answer Maggie’s Call?

Andrew Clarke is a DUP Councillor in Mid and East Antrim. Maggie Black died on 1st December 2021. Maggie was just five years old, and her sudden passing shocked the entire community around Glenarm. Shocking too, is this statistic: while the ambulance took 70 minutes to arrive, the local fire station was only seven minutes away. In medical emergencies speed is of the essence. For cardiac or oxygen incidents, each minute can make a crucial difference to survival, and to …

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Sooooo is it all over?

halloween, retro, scared woman

The Republic has agreed to lift almost all Covid restrictions from 6am tomorrow. Similar relaxations of the rules are happening in Northern Ireland. So does this mean it is over? Do we have to go back to the office? Can we start licking each other again? Not sure how to react to the news. I feel like I should quote a poem or something profound, but my mind is blank. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯   Brian O'NeillI help keep the good ship Slugger afloat …

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The Birthday Lunch…

restaurant, street cafe, loaf

She was waiting for me, sitting at a picnic table in the dappled shade of a silver birch, its leaves delicately coloured the new green of spring that we’d both come to value and love. Gravel crackled and scrunched beneath the soles of my shoes as I walked the final few yards along the path to meet her and I could feel the first real warmth of a May sun seeping through my jacket and deep into my back. It …

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Maybe January would be better spent having an honest conversation about how we got to a place we seem to want to escape…

drinks, alcohol, cocktails

“Alcoholism is a disease, but it’s the only disease you can get yelled at for having.” Mitch Hedberg 2022 is the tenth year of the official Dry January campaign. Last year, 130,000 people signed up with Alcohol Change UK, who provide a choice of daily coaching emails or a steady stream of encouragement via their phone app, all aimed at helping people get through the longest month of the year without assistance from drink. This 2021 figure was up 30% …

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Two minute timer…

hourglass, time, hours

I was meticulously marked out with a pen seven days before, every black line and dot carefully applied to my left breast with precision accuracy. Be sure that you don’t get it wet, they warned, It will have to stay there for the next six weeks. My children would have something to say about that, I thought. And they did. ‘Mummy got her booby written on,’ remarked my daughter, without taking much of an interest. ‘Mummy got big tattoo!’ exclaimed …

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What if some of our personal data could actually help save lives?

chemist, laboratory, analysis

“It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information.”  ― Oscar Wilde Information is valuable; it’s theft and misuse, a nightmare that we all fear these days. And yet so often, in this online world, we regularly sleepwalk into parting with information that can be used or even weaponised into targeted mail relating to our consumer preferences. We become suspicious when more personal information is sought, and rightly so. But what if some of our personal …

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