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Halcyon actively monitors change covering more than 150 key elements of life.

A Mundane Comedy is Dominic Kelleher's new book, which will be published later in 2023. The introduction is available here and further extracts will appear on this site in the coming months. Please get in touch with any questions or thoughts.

The 52:52:52 project, launching both on this site and on Twitter in mid 2023 will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

What's Changing? - Addiction

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Please see below selected recent addiction-related change.


See also:


September 2023

  • Farmers in Colombia cultivated a record 230,000 hectares of coca in 2022, a 13% increase over the previous year. Coca is the key ingredient in cocaine, of which Colombia remains the leading exporter. President Gustavo Petro criticised coca eradication programs as failed policy, but he has reportedly struggled to contain armed trafficking groups and has made little progress alleviating poverty in rural areas where the crop is grown.


March 2023


February 2023

  • Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world, and is the cause of three million deaths each year and has been linked to many other long-term illnesses. In addition, the loss of productivity due to hangovers has an outsized impact on some economies.


December 2022


May 2022

  • The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) granted Johnson Hopkins Medicine a $US 4 million grant to investigate the use of psilocybin for the treatment of addiction. Psilocybin is the primary psychoactive ingredient in psychedelic mushrooms. The NIH funded research to understand how psychedelics could be used to treat mental health disorders as early as the 1950s, funding over 130 studies on LSD alone over the course of two decades. The effort was slowed after the Thalidomide issue when the US government placed tight regulation around pharmaceutical research and halted completely after Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act, classifying psychedelics as having “no accepted medical use”. noted Future Today Institute.
  • In another small pilot study, Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Matthew Johnson, conducted a study to understand whether psilocybin could help people quit smoking. After 12 months, 67 percent of participants remained abstinent from cigarettes.
  • Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration is encouraging psychedelic-based drug research by granting psychedelics the status of “breakthrough therapy” to accelerate drug approval.
  • According to a meta-study of prevalence, it is thought that 2.5% of the general population are hoarders, with men and women represented equally. Once thought to be a peculiar kind of obsessive-compulsive disorder, it is now classified as its own condition. Indeed, hoarding can be a symptom of a few different underlying pathologies


April 2022

  • There is a specialised form of counselling available to loved ones of people who misuse alcohol and drugs, called Community Reinforcement Approach and Family Training (CRAFT). Studies on CRAFT show that family members who undergo this training are more likely to see their loved one seek addiction treatment or reduce their substance use than are those who don’t do CRAFT. Psyche analysed key ideas from CRAFT, as well as other guidance drawn from research on what actually motivates people to seek treatment or change their use.


October 2021

  • There was reportedly a 54% surge in alcohol sales during the first week of the pandemic, and it remained persistently high in the following weeks and months. 


August 2021

  • Cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis are each used by hundreds of millions of people for their psychoactive properties. Someone might wish to drink away their sorrows after a bad break-up, try to relax after a stressful exam week by getting high, or light a cigarette because they think it will help them concentrate. While this sort of substance use is commonplace, Psyche noted that smokers, heavy alcohol users and cannabis users are at higher risk of mental illnesses, such as a depressive or anxiety disorder.  Science shows that life events that can increase the risk of mental illness – such as childhood trauma or the unexpected death of a loved one – can also lead to increased substance use. But the reverse might also be possible: that using psychoactive substances leads to mental illness.


July 2021

  • Drug overdose deaths in the United States rose 30 percent in 2020, according to CDC data. Medical professionals have long been accused of overprescribing opioids in exchange for kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies. (A documentary The Crime of the Century documented how one pharma company allegedly helped engineer the current crisis.)


May 2021

  • The School of Life warns that many of eat too much because we hate ourselves too intensely to have the necessary respect for our own bodies. Our tragedy isn’t our unconstrained appetite. But rather, the difficulty we have in getting access to the emotional and psychological things that would nourish our broken souls. The diet industry has latched onto the symptoms of our unhappiness, not their causes - and therefore the solutions it offers can only ever be temporary and fragile. It can’t make us lastingly thin because it is not engaging with what made us manically fat.


April 2021

  • According to Psyche, about 270 million people around the world consumed drugs in 2018, a 30 per cent increase on the 10 years before. Close to 13 per cent of these people have a substance abuse disorder, a condition that affects the person’s brain and behaviour such that they have little control over their consumption of drugs. Groups such as people sleeping rough or those who are homeless are hit particularly hard by addiction: according to the Mental Health Foundation, the majority of homeless people struggle with substance abuse (more than 60 per cent) causing a dangerous number of deaths. 


March 2021

  • Before the pandemic, alcohol was a central part of how many people socialised with their co-workers, even though research is clear that alcohol negatively impacts productivity and company performance. Experts are therefore now suggesting that companies support the abstainers and those who are just seeking to cut back, during the pandemic and beyond. In this spirit (no pun intended), Quartz published a guide to the "joy" of sobriety.


December 2020

  • Deaths caused by alcohol hit a new high during the first nine months of 2020, provisional figures for England and Wales showed. Between January and September, 5,460 of these deaths causes were registered - up 16% on the same months in 2019. It was the biggest toll recorded since the records began in 2001. As in past years, rates of male alcohol-specific deaths were twice those seen for women.


November 2020


July 2020

  • Addiction is not a moral failure, claimed Big Think, adding that it is a learning disorder, and viewing it otherwise stops communities and policy makers from the ultimate goal: harm reduction.Yet society's perceptions of drug addiction and its drug policies are illogical. Drug addiction is not a moral failure and the stereotypes about who gets addicted are not true. Policy that is built to punish drug users for their immorality only increases harm and death rates, adds Big Thnik.
  • Curiosity lies at the heart of human achievement, including cave dwellers’ tools and complex societies. However, natural curiosity in children often diminishes as parents and others unwittingly discourage it. It then appears to be difficult for adults to (re-)develop. The authors of The Curiosity Advantage counter by arguing that, contrary to conventional wisdom, most people crave the ambiguity, change and novelty that ignite the curiosity that leads to learning. Curiosity can tap the reward and pleasure centres of your brain, they believe, sparking the release of dopamine, which permits new connections between neurons. Like anything that delivers pleasure, curiosity can grow addictive. 


May 2020

  • About 300,000 people in the UK reportedly quit smoking because of the coronavirus pandemic and half a million more were trying to, according to a survey by the anti-smoking campaign, Ash. Another 2.4 million smokers were trying to cut back, having recognised that Covid-19 is a respiratory disease and that smoking wrecks lungs and harms immune systems.


April 2020

  • Alcohol abuse in Russia may have fallen sharply over the past 15 years, but with millions of Russians under home quarantine orders, vodka sales leapt 65% in just one week of March 2020, with hospitals saying they were gearing up for a host of alcohol-related admissions.
  • Further reading:


February 2020


January 2020

  • Brewer Heineken gave away cans of its 0.0% alcohol-free beer to US-based customers to mark Dry January 2020, the public health alcohol abstention campaign. Customers sign up on a dedicated January Dry Pack website to receive a limited edition white and blue calendar, with one can of beer to open for each day of the month. To make the drink taste similar to ‘regular’ beer Heineken brews its 0.0% drink using the same ingredients, A-yeast and processes as alcoholic beer, before removing the alcohol.  


December 2019


October 2019


September 2019


August 2019


July 2019

  • Drinkers worldwide are slowing down, but not drying out entirely. The temperance movement for the new millennium is all about “sober-curiosity,” dabbling in a lower alcohol lifestyle, encouraged by a growing ranges of low/no alcohol substitute drinks. 
  • The price of opium extracted from poppies - the precursor of heroin - fell by 90% in parts of southwest Mexico over 18 months, possibly due to increased competition from heroin alternatives like fentanyl. Such price crashes hurt local farmers, contributing to other problems, such as a surge of migrants headed to the US border.
  • Sober nightlife is emerging all over the world. While drinking alcohol has traditionally been a staple of grown-up social life in many countries, younger generations are changing that. Nonalcoholic beer is the fastest-growing segment in the beer industry. And individuals who don’t want to drink (for whatever reason - religion, recovery, health, or just because) value nonalcoholic or lower alcohol drinks and bars for what they don’t have. These consumers want the experience, without the hangover, and will pay just as much for it, believes TrendWatching.
  • Nearly 1,200 people died from drugs in Scotland in 2018 - around 86% of cases involved opioids like heroin. Per capita, that's nearly three times the drug death rate for the whole UK and more than any other EU country.


May 2019


March 2019

  • The Economist pointed to a study showing that regular use of potent cannabis, with levels of tetrahydrocannabinol above 10%, increases the risk of developing psychosis five-fold. The study, which looked at weed smoking in a group of patients newly diagnosed with psychosis, formed part of a growing body of evidence linking cannabis use to mental-health problems in Europe. In London, 30% of new cases of psychosis in the study were reckoned to be linked to strong cannabis.


February 2019

  • In 2017, the production of opium, the major ingredient in heroin, in Afghanistan increased by 65 percent to 10,500 tonnes, the highest total recorded by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime since it began collecting data in 2000. That’s in part because the Taliban has boosted production of the lucrative crop as it’s expanded control over Afghan territory, noted GZEROMedia.


January 2019


December 2018

  • China agreed to crack down on exports of the illicit drug fentanyl and its chemical precursors as part of a deal to diffuse trade tensions agreed with the US, at least according to the Trump administration. A record 70,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017 – many of them from opioids laced with fentanyl.


September 2018

  • Skin grafts could treat cocaine addiction, reported Quartz. A natural enzyme that breaks down the drug could be introduced by stem cells carrying a certain gene.
  • The area under coca cultivation in Colombia reached a record high last year of 422,550 acres, according to a new UN report. That’s a 256 percent increase since 2013. Health-related cutbacks on crop spraying, poorly implemented crop substitution plans, and the entrance of narcotraffickers into regions surrendered by FARC guerillas have all contributed to the surge.


August 2018

  • Drug overdoses killed 72,287 people in the United States in 2017, a new record, noted GZEROMedia. A majority of the deaths, nearly 49,000, was caused by opioids. Compare that with 58,220 Americans killed in the Vietnam War. 
  • Alcohol consumption across North Africa and the Middle East is particularly low - in many countries, close to zero. At the upper end of the scale, alcohol intake across Eastern Europe is highest at 14-17 litres per person per year across Belarus, Russia, Czech Republic and Lithuania.
  • A large new global study published in the Lancet confirmed previous research which has shown that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption. The researchers admit moderate drinking may protect against heart disease but found that the risk of cancer and other diseases outweighs these protections. A study author said its findings were the most significant to date because of the range of factors considered. The Global Burden of Disease study looked at levels of alcohol use and its health effects in 195 countries, between 1990 and 2016.


July 2018

  • There is a moral panic over “addiction” to tech that’s based on weak data, argued Quartz.
  • renowned psychologist called for a stronger recognition of the social nature of our worsening global addiction problem, warning that, beginning in the 19th century, western society has tried all the religious, coercive, medical, and compassionate solutions that we have on addiction but the problem is, if anything, getting worse.


June 2018


Pre 2018

  • There is a lack of consensus as to what may properly be termed "addiction". Addiction describes a chronic pattern of behaviour that continues despite the direct or indirect adverse consequences that result from engaging in the behaviour. It is quite common for an addict to express the desire to stop the behaviour, but find himself or herself unable to cease.
  • Positive addictions may prevent violence. Getting children into the habit of participating in activities such as school sports or music can, according to researchers lead to less fighting and fewer court referrals and gang-related activities. Such programmes cultivate the development of protective assets, such as stronger relationships with family members and mentors and the pursuit of "positive addictions" such as fitness, learning a musical instrument etc.