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National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: first report

National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: first report

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: first report

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: first report

1) Objective

In response to the request made at the European Council meeting in Dublin on 25 and 26 June 1990, the Commission presented a report on work done on drug demand reduction in the Member States.

2) Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 8 November 1990 concerning a report on national programmes for drug demand reduction in the European Community [COM(90) 527 final – Not published in the Official journal].

3) Summary

Responsibility for drug policies is divided up between national, regional and local levels in each Member State. In most Member States policies and general guidelines are established at national level, while the implementation of actions is the responsibility of regional or local bodies. There is a willingness to keep a balance between a decentralised approach involving innovative local activities and the necessity to have a minimum coordination of policies.

The funding of these actions reflects the distribution of responsibilities, but in some Member States levels of Government funding are enhanced by substantial contributions from the non-government sector (in Greece, for example). In several Member States the total levels of funding have shown a substantial increase due to the additional threat of AIDS.

It is difficult to compare the levels and trends of drug use because each Member State uses different methodologies and definitions for data collection and in some cases no consistent data collection effort has been implemented (in the United Kingdom in particular). It is difficult to estimate the total number of drug users since many do not seek help nor come into contact with the authorities. However, on the basis of the data available on the number of known drug users, many Member States have experienced an increase in their number in recent years. In some Member States there are reports of a stabilisation in the overall number of users, in particular for heroin. There is also evidence in some Member States that the use of cocaine and new drugs is increasing.

In most Member States the legal provisions favour the therapeutic approach for drug users. This may be voluntary or compulsory (an alternative to prison). In some Member States there is a tendency to increase the penalties for drug possession or use. With regard to the regulations concerning detoxification and substitution treatments, the awareness of the role of intravenous drug abuse as a risk factor for AIDS infection has led to specific decisions such as the authorisation of methadone as a substitution treatment or the liberalisation of the sale of syringes.

Member States have increased their efforts to prevent drug abuse by implementing coordinated, continuous and structured preventive actions in response to a rapidly evolving situation, but only a few countries have made use of the mass media in their information campaigns.

Treatment structures vary considerably from one Member State to another, ranging from formally structured institutions to voluntary associations. The risk of AIDS transmission has prompted Member States to adopt more flexible approaches in an attempt to reach drug users in their environment and to make help available to them without requiring them to give up drugs first. The balance between health and social services varies between the Member States. The mental health care system also plays a role in some countries.

The awareness of the need for funding and manpower resources has emerged only recently and therefore the structures are not very well developed. There is an urgent need for staff. Special priority and financial resources must also be given to research, which has suffered up to now from the lack of coordination.

Member States’ approaches vary widely and are constantly evolving. They are aware of the importance of drug demand reduction programmes within an overall drug policy which addresses cultural, health and social problems.

4) Implementing Measures

5) Follow-Up Work

National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: second report

National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: second report

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: second report

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Combating drugs

National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: second report

1) Objective

Following the European Council’s approval of the first report on 14 December 1990, and its recommendation that the Member States provide the Commission systematically with information on drugs, the Commission drew up the second report which summarises activities carried out within the Community including those carried out by the Commission.

2) Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 25 May 1992 concerning the second report on national programmes for drug demand reduction in the European Community [SEC(92) 725 final – Not published in the Official journal].

3) Summary

Data obtained from a questionnaire sent to national authorities at the end of July 1991 has made it possible to establish which services are available in Europe as a whole, rather than provide a detailed account of the situation in individual Member States. All Member States reported having some mechanism for national coordination of actions taken in relation to drugs, with regional and local authorities making a specific contribution. Several Member States relied on the private sector and voluntary associations for the provision of drug related services (Greece, Italy, Netherlands and United Kingdom). An emphasis on decentralisation was also indicated (Spain, Italy, Netherlands and United Kingdom). Legislation ranges from a general law on drug abuse to administrative or penal sanctions, detoxification treatment sometimes replacing jail sentences. However, there are very few provisions in some areas (prevention of the transmission of infectious diseases, voluntary detoxification treatment and drug abuse at the workplace).

The levels of funding vary substantially from one Member State to another according to, among other factors, the size of the population, the magnitude of the drug problem and the resources in the country.

Most drug prevention activities are school-based. Next in frequency are prevention activities aimed at the general population or specific groups (young people, social services staff, etc.). The availability of information varies according to the Member State and the level of prevention (community or school). Multi-media campaigns such as Belgium’s campaign entitled “Talk with your children about drugs” have been organised in most States.

The Community’s most common initiative in the field of harm reduction, which is difficult to distinguish from treatment in some countries, is the facilitation of access to health services, but there are also helplines, material and social support for drug abusers. Data on financial resources allocated to projects and the use of services is extremely irregular.

The most common approaches to treatment and rehabilitation are:

  • therapeutic communities,
  • street agencies and drop-in centres,
  • detoxification treatment,
  • after-care support programmes,
  • followed in frequency by in-patient detoxification, prison programmes for drug abusers, half-way houses and methadone maintenance programmes.

Activities in the fields of housing, training or employment, for example, are less common. Services for specific sub-groups (women, children, drug users with AIDS, etc.) are even less common.

In many Member States the following broad trends are reported:

  • increase in drug-related deaths;
  • increase in demand for treatment;
  • older age at death;
  • increase in first-time drug users;
  • high proportion of drug abusers among prison populations;
  • rising numbers of drug-related AIDS cases;
  • growing concern over HIV-related problems, both in drug users, their families and others in the community.

During the period in question, the Commission’s main priority has been the exchange of information and experience in the field of prevention and training with the aid of pilot projects, studies and conferences. It has received help from public authorities, NGOs and health and social practitioners. More specific measures have been implemented, in particular with regard to AIDS and the impact on health of drug abuse and drug abuse at the workplace.

4) Implementing Meaures

5) Follow-Up Work