Hot Topics 2014

Hot Topics 2014

On the 14th of November 2014 we held the fourth annual Hot Topics Conference, it was as always an amazing event with some of the most inspiring speakers we could find. This page contains the presentations from the day including video footage so even if you didn't get to attend you can benefit from the knowledge shared. 
Carl Hart Dr Carl Hart - High Price
Carl Hart is the author of the book 'High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society'. He is an associate professor in the departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. He is also a research scientist in the Division of Substance Abuse at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Dr. Hart is a member of the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse and on the board of directors of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence and the Drug Policy Alliance. A native of Miami, Florida, Dr. Hart received his BS in psychology at the University of Maryland and his MS and PhD in experimental psychology and neuroscience at the University of Wyoming.

Carl talked about his work and the perceptions of drug use and drug users in society.

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Anne-Marie Cockburn Anne-Marie Cockburn - 5,742 days
Anne-Marie Cockburn is a bereaved single mother whose 15 year old daughter, Martha Fernback, died on the 20th July 2013 after swallowing half a gram of MDMA powder (more widely known as ecstasy), which turned out to be 91% pure. Within hours Anne-Marie began to write down her feelings as a way to channel her shock and try to make sense of the tragic loss of her only child. Her book, 5,742 Days documents the first 102 days without her daughter and shows her real-time journey of survival and hope. In her own words: ‘It’s about harm reduction and safeguarding, based on reality. Prohibition leaves the control of drugs in the hands of criminals. We must take control of drugs in order to establish a healthier and safer society, and that means responsible regulation.’

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David Stuart David Stuart - Sexualised use of novel psycoactive drugs among gay men
David Stuart is the Substance Use Lead at 56 Dean street, GUM/ HIV (Chelsea and Westminster hospital, NHS Foundation Trust), a role created specifically to address the UK syndemic of HIV/HCV/ STI/sexualized drug use by MSM, often referred to as “ChemSex”. David has been instrumental in promoting understanding and good practice in the field of MSM substance use, facilitating the adoption of substance use work within the GUM/HIV sector to address ChemSex trends. 

David presented about the adoption of novel psychoactive drugs (particularly Mephedrone, methamphetamine and GHB/GBL) by gay/bisexual men to facilitate sex and the impact this has on the way services work with people.

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Gerry Stimson


Prof. Gerry Stimson - Electronic cigarette: disruptive technology, public health potential and regulatory challenge
Gerry is a public health social scientist, with over 40 years' experience of public health research and advocacy in the field of psychoactive substance use. He was one of the founders of harm reduction in the 1980s, and much of his academic research focused on reducing drug and alcohol related harms. Now an ardent e-cigarette advocate. He is Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Emeritus Professor at Imperial College London, and the Editor of the International Journal of Drug Policy. He founded the Department of Social Science and Medicine at Imperial College. From 1990 to 2004, he was Director of the Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behaviour. He was Executive Director of the International Harm Reduction Association from 2004 to 2010.

Gerry spoke about electronic cigarettes and the role they play within public health.

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Magdalena Harris Dr. Magdalena Harris - An elephant in the room? The role of pragmatics and pleasure in effective harm reduction
Dr Magdalena Harris is a qualitative sociologist based at the Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behaviour, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. After devoting her 20’s to heroin and other injecting drug use in New Zealand, Magdalena returned to University graduating with a PhD from the University of New South Wales, Australia. She has been based in London for the past five years, conducting a programme of research investigating the lived experience of hepatitis C and its treatment in the UK. Magdalena has published widely on harm reduction and hepatitis C, is a UK Hepatitis C Trust board member, editorial board member for the International Journal of Drug Policy and is passionate about community engagement and building links between community/activist organisations and social research institutions/academia.

Magdalena spoke about understanding the role pleasure plays when working with people who use drugs.

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Katy MacLeod Katy MacLeod - What’s trending? - New drugs, new populations
Katy MacLeod is the National Training and Development Officer for the Scottish Drugs Forum. She coordinates the New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and psychostimulant work for the organisation. Katy is also Director at Safe & Sound Welfare where she works literally ‘out in the field’ at various music festivals and events. In this role she conducts research into drug prevalence and coordinates welfare services providing information, advice and support to drug users or those considering using substances.

Katy gave an update on the latest NPS and psychostimulant drug trends and the role of harm reduction within specific populations of concern from ‘recreational’ users through to people who inject drugs.

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Sara McGrail Sara McGrail - Fast forward?
Sara McGrail is a long time commentator on UK drug policy - particularly in terms of commissioning and treatment policy. She has worked in the sector for more years than she cares to remember - having been inducted into the mysteries of outreach work and needle exchange on the streets of Croxteth and Norris Green in the early 90s. Since then she has worked in central and local government, in senior roles in treatment providers and most happily as a freelance policy advisor. She now divides her time equally between the drugs field, and work on personalisation and advocacy with a much broader client group.

Sara gave an overview of the signals coming from the main parties in next years general election in terms of health and social care, money, CJ policy. She also looked at what this might mean for the people who use and work in drug services.

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Russell Newcombe Russell Newcombe - Intoxiphobia: a review of the international literature on discrimination against people who use drugs
Russell Newcombe has been doing research and training on drug use and drug services for 30 years. His books include 'Living with Heroin' (co-author 1988), 'The Reduction of Drug-Related Harm' (co-editor 1992), and ‘Tripology’ (2004). Since 2010, Russell has been running 3D Research, specializing in research and training on novel psychoactive substances (NPS) and evaluation of harm-reduction interventions.

Russell spoke about the stigmatization of and discrimination against people who use drugs, i.e. negative attitudes and behaviour from both organisations and individuals toward users of prohibited drugs.

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Photos from the day

Other bits

Max Daly has written about the Hot Topics conference for Drink, Drug News magazine.
Magdalena Harris's talk was covered by Rodger Pebody for the AIDSmap website.
HIT's Community Manager has written a short article on the design of the Hot Topics bags after the reaction they got at the conference.
The night before Hot Topics we held a Harm Reduction cafe, you can see the photos from this event on the cafe website

The Stuff On Alcohol

The Stuff On Alcohol This 16-page booklet, aimed at young people, covers alcohol and includes sections on: what it is brief history of use effects dangers the law top 10 safety tips what the young characters think of alcohol where to find more information and get help if needed Part of the 'Stuff on..'…

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