Hot Topics 2015

Hot Topics 2015

On the 27th of November 2015 we held the fifth annual Hot Topics Conference. The venue of Lutyens Crypt in the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral acted as a fantastic backdrop for a range of international speakers. 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.
Ethan Ethan Nadelmann - Drug Policy Reform
Ethan was described by Rolling Stone as "the point man" for drug policy reform efforts. He is the founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, the leading organisation in the United States promoting alternatives to the war on drugs.

Ethan talked about the current situation with international drug policy. He and his colleagues have played pivotal roles in most of the major drug policy reform ballot initiative campaigns in the United States on issues ranging from medical marijuana and marijuana legalisation to prison reform, drug treatment and reform of asset forfeiture laws. They have also reformed state and federal laws involving drug sentencing, access to sterile syringes to reduce HIV/AIDS, access to drug treatment, prevention of overdose fatalities, and all aspects of marijuana policy.

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carl Dr Carl Hart - How the War on Drugs is Harmful to Us All
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 the how the war on drugs is harmful to us all and the 'Three Cs' that we all need to focus on when doing the work we do: Convictions, Capability and Courage.

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Alex Alex Stevens - The Misuse of Death
Alex Stevens is Professor in Criminal Justice at the University of Kent. He is also President of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy and a member of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He has worked on issues of drugs and crime since 1991, including with the charities Prisoners Abroad and Cranstoun Drug Services. He has published extensively on these topics, including in his book 'Drugs, Crime and Public Health: The Political Economy of Drug Policy'.

Alex spoke about 'The misuse of death'. This talk considered how deaths are used, misused and ignored in drug policy discussions. Some deaths are considered highly noteworthy and lead to drastic policy changes. Others are ignored and steps to prevent them remain unimplemented. Why does this happen, what are the consequences, and what can be done about it? [Spoiler alert: it's about class].

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Bengt Kayser - Human enhancement drugs, is there reason to think harm reduction?
Bengt studied medicine in Amsterdam before moving to Switzerland where he is teaching and researching at the University of Lausanne. Next to his work as an exercise physiologist he is working on the ethics of doping and anti-doping from a general human enhancement perspective.

The use of drugs to improve human performance, for example to improve physical performance in sports or cognitive performance at work may be increasing. Two opposing discourses can be heard, akin to those concerning the use of recreational drugs, a conservative one promoting zero-tolerance and repression, and a more liberal one promoting relaxation and individual autonomy. While public debate is on-going, harm reduction measures makes sense, for example by providing needle exchange for anabolic steroid use in body builders. Extension of such approaches merits reflection and debate.

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Jamie Bridge & Nigel Brunsdon - Photo Based Campaigning
Jamie is the Senior Policy and Operations Manager at International Drug Policy Commission and Nigel is HIT’s Community Manager. Both of them have many years of experience with harm reduction campaigning, and beard growing.

They spoke about the use of photo based campaigning, looking at it's historical context and the opportunities for the coming years now that the barriers to entry (digital cameras etc) are so low.

They also encouraged the entire audience of Hot Topics to join in with 2 ongoing campaigns ('Support don't Punish' and 'Harm Reduction is Beautiful')

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karen Karen Hammond - Public Health Professionals and Drug Using Mothers
Karen is a PhD Candidate in the Centre of Alcohol and Drug Studies at the University of the West of Scotland, currently investigating hidden populations of illicit drug users from a critical perspective.

Karen spoke about the effect a reduction in focus on harm reduction may be impacting the way services approach drug using mothers, creating a sense of mistrust that means people disengage with these services posing a greater long term risk to the children.

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Chris Chris Rintoul - Lessons Learnt from Ireland's Naloxone Projects
Chris is a co-creator of the U-Turn opiate overdose app for smartphones. The lead trainer for Take Home Naloxone scheme in NI, and deputy Service Manager of addiction service based in Ballymena. He has over twenty years experience in homelessness and addiction fields in NI. He's also an all round harm reduction aficionado.

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Josie Josie Smith - WEDINOS
Josie is Head of Substance Misuse, Public Health Wales. She has had an extensive career working, both at frontline, research and policy development level, in the field of drugs, alcohol and complex needs. Since joining Public Health in 2004, Josie has developed and implemented a range of innovative public health programmes.

Josie spoke about the WEDINOS national framework for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information relating to novel and/or unknown substances and combinations of substances, both psychoactive and performance/image enhancing drugs. Which is used to improve the provision of relevant harm reduction advice and service development.

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Niamh Niamh Eastwood - Psychoactive Substances Bill
Niamh is Executive Director of Release. She is a non-practising barrister who started at Release in 2002 as a legal advisor. She has extensive experience of service delivery, policy strategy, fundraising and operational development. Having worked in drug policy for the last ten years Niamh is passionate about drug policy reform and believes that the most vulnerable in society are disproportionately impacted upon by the current drug laws.

Niamh spoke about the Psychoactive Substances Bill which she says is an unnecessary and unworkable piece of legislation.

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harry Harry Sumnall - Novel Psychoactive Drugs
Harry is a Professor in Substance Use at the Centre for Public Health. He is interested in all aspects of substance use, particularly young people’s health issues. Harry also has research interests in psychopharmacology and addictive behaviours, with a focus upon causes, consequences, and experiences of drug use. He is also interested in the psychopharmacology of entactogens and hallucinogens and the developing field of new psychoactive substances.

Harry is a member of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, and a Board Member of the European Society for Prevention Research. Harry spoke about novel psychoactive drugs.

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Photos from the day

The Stuff On Magic Mushrooms

The Stuff On Magic Mushrooms This 16-page booklet, aimed at young people, covers magic mushrooms 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 magic mushrooms where to find more information and get help if needed Part of the…

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