Vol. 18, ed. 4

November 2021

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Dear colleagues,

Decoupling pain relief from pleasure could hold the key to creating a safer range of opioid-based medications that retain their well-known analgesic properties without triggering addiction.

In October, a team in the US reported on its study of the nucleus accumbens, described as “a key region in the reward circuit of the brain”.

Using Nobel Prize-winning technology as part of their range of tools and techniques, researchers found that creating a safe opioid will hinge on pharmaceutical companies’ ability to either bypass altogether, or bias opioids’ effects away from, the dorsal raphe-to-nucleus accumbens pathway.

Elsewhere, analysis of surveys in Australia, North America and Spain has identified the potentially serious risks of combining popular mainstream energy drinks with drugs, both legal and illicit.

The findings highlight the importance of GPs, other prescribers and health care professionals in general being fully informed and able to advise patients at risk of pairing high concentrations of caffeine and/or other energy-boosters such as guarana, yerba mate and taurine with either prescription medication or substances including cannabis, ecstasy, stimulants and alcohol.

In this issue of The Bulletin we showcase strategies developed both overseas and here in Australia for engaging with people who use drugs on the crucial topic of COVID-19 vaccination; delve into the increasing use of social media as a platform for trading substances in a world in lockdown; and look into the key takeaways from Australia’s Annual Overdose Report 2021 (released on International Overdose Awareness Day, August 31) from a frontline worker’s perspective.

Our one-on-one Q&A conversation this month transports us to Nairobi, Kenya, where Allan Ragi shares with us the successes and challenges of his organisation’s work in campaigning against threats such as HIV/AIDS in vulnerable populations and in joining forces with passionate, committed sector partners to advocate for harm reduction more broadly throughout East Africa.

Please share this November issue with both your colleagues and your social networks and, as always, let us know what you’d like to see examined in this, your own frontline worker magazine.

John Ryan
CEO, Penington Institute