National programmes for the reduction of drug demand: second report
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.
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].
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.