Advocacy for a cantonal institution for drug diseases

For this year Association Margina once again organised street action disseminating promotional materials, meeting people and spreading information about the campaign and work of the association.

By sharing an educational brochure (What to do when someone overdoes you, etc.) to several locations in the city by volunteers, Margina wanted to raise people’s awareness of a problem that doesn’t affect only individuals, but whole community. Passers-by had the opportunity to get acquainted with the organization’s work and campaign goals, and also to take pictures with campaign Logo in order to support those who need it the most. Organisers are very pleased with the community response to the messages that the campaign provides, as more and more people are aware that changes must be introduced to the entire system.

A special feature this year is the public debateDo We Need The Office of Addiction Diseases” with 40 representatives from institutions and civil society present, as well as active users of “suboxone” therapy and active users of harm reduction services provided by our organization.

The opposite views are expressed about how to fund a part of the health system, and insufficient systemic support for people using drugs. Also, for the first time data from the regional project “Budget advocacy and monitoring” were presented and representatives of the Ministry of Health and the Health Insurance Fund had mild panic outbursts, with the information provided and recommendations.

The conclusion of all the attendees is that this Department of Addiction Diseases, as urgently needed, will be one of our goals in the advocacy campaign that will follow in early September.

Drug users are discriminated and without a proper treatment program

HOPS – Healthy Options Skopje hosted the “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign activities for the fifth time. The focus of HOPS campaign in 2019 is on the quality of treatment programs in Macedonia. The situation in Kisela Voda community is currently critical, with the Daily Centre for Prevention and Treatment of Addictions.

The campaign Support. Don’t Punish was launched on Facebook and HOPS’s website. They designed and made 5 illustrated messages. Focus groups with drug users took place previously, sharing messages for quality treatment from the discussion. Short videos were posted on Facebook and HOPS’s website. Previously, two videos were shot on sharing the weakness of the drug users’ treatment programs.

press conference during which the key findings from the research on the quality of treatment programs were presented.

At the event in the City Park on 26 June, artist Dreadpen painted graphite. At the same time citizens discussed and delivered messages of support and equal treatment for all. Also, appeals were addressed to the authorities to find a solution for psychosocial support which, besides the medical therapy that now exists, is very important in the treatment process.

Through the research “Quality of addiction treatment programs in Macedonia“, HOPS among other things found out that about 1.1% of the citizens in Macedonia tried opioid drugs and the number of people who use them by injection is estimated at around 6,800. “Only 27% of people who inject drugs in Macedonia are included in treatment programs for addicts, which is below the European average of 50%” states the analysis.

Apart from the dominant substitution therapy with methadone and buprenorphine, other treatment approaches are not available within the public health facilities and there are no programs for the treatment of non-opiate addictions except for alcohol.

There is also a serious deficit of staff with adequate training, especially psychiatrists, in treatment programs throughout the country.

Have a look at the video taken during the campaign

Лекувањето е право, а не привилегија

„Лекувањето е право, а не привилегија!“, но дали сите граѓани уживаат во тоа право? ХОПС по петти пат беше дел од глобалната кампања „Support. Don’t Punish“, а фокусот годинава беше квалитетот на програмите на лекување

Gepostet von Види Вака am Donnerstag, 4. Juli 2019

Promotional activities of the “Support. Don’t Punish“ campaign in Albania

The main activity was the awareness day in occasion of 26th of June, in Durrës. Since the major part of the population is in summer holidays, Aksion plus planned to organize a big event in Durres, in the beach, among vacationers. For this event they strongly collaborated with Caritas, informing at the beginning their 50 young volunteers and on 26th they went together and distributed information among people. Firstly, a big banderol “Support. Don’t Punish” with key message on drug policy was posted in the seaside, in order for the vacationers to see and to understand what this activity was about. The day continued with the distribution of the brochures, leaflets and posters of the campaign. All the volunteers and staff were wearing T-shirt with the message “Support. Don’t Punish”. It was an excited day for young volunteers, to say “no” to the discrimination toward these target groups.

On June 26, 2019, in one of the main streets in the city of Tirana, a drug information campaign was developed together with the SALUS clinic. This activity consisted in the distribution of brochures and leaflets for the purpose of informing the population in the framework of the “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign.

Have a look at the video from the activities below

Global Day of Action- Support. Don't Punish!

Support. Don’t Punish is a global grassroots-centred initiative in support of harm reduction and drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights. The campaign seeks to put harm reduction on the political agenda by strengthening the mobilisation capacity of affected communities and their allies, opening dialogue with policy makers, and raising awareness among the media and the public.The Support. Don’t Punish campaign aligns with the following key messages:-The drug control system is broken and in need of reform-People who use drugs should no longer be criminalised-People involved in the drug trade at low levels, especially those involved for reasons of subsistence or coercion, should not face harsh or disproportionate punishments-The death penalty should never be imposed for drug offences-Drug policy should focus on health, well-being and harm reduction-Drug policy budgets need rebalancing to ensure health and harm reduction-based responses are adequately financed.#Supportdontpunish #aksionplus #globaldayofaction #26ofJune

Gepostet von Aksion Plus am Donnerstag, 27. Juni 2019

You can find more about the campaign activities recently held in Albania at the news following this link>>>

Great activities in Montenegro for the “Support. Don’t Punish“ campaign

NGO Juventas coordinated activities of the “Support. Don’t Punish“ campaign in 2019 together with several other partner organisations from Montenegro. The campaign was focused on raising awareness about human rights of people who use drugs.

The campaign started on 17 June when a short video material was created, continued with social media and television campaign, open space events and lasted until 5 July with photography exhibition in the local gallery.

The video material, with supportive messages from people in institutions and CSO’s who support our work with people who use drugs, was created, with the support of  Institute for public Health, Medical Centre, NGO Cazas and Juventas Drop-in Centre for people who use and inject drugs.

#STV #Podrži #NeKažnjavaj

?Bez podrške osobama koje koriste droge, samo komplikujemo već tešku situaciju u kojoj se oni nalaze. Danas je droga lako dostupna, pa se borimo da se smanji ponuda, ali se isto tako borimo za kvalitet života svake osobe, koja je pogođena bolestima zavisnosti. #STV #Podrži #NeKažnjavaj ?

Gepostet von Nvo Juventas am Mittwoch, 26. Juni 2019

In Njegošev park, in the city centre of Podgorica, photographs were made for the exhibition, along with colleagues who work in Drop-in centre for people who use drugs, Juventas, NGO Link and clients who wanted to be part of exhibition.

“Stigma towards persons facing diseases of dependency is somewhat reduced, but still exists and it is important to take adequate steps compared to support, reducing damage caused by drug use and empower a person to deal with the dependency problem. It is assessed by the program of direct assistance for persons at risk of social exclusion in Juventas”, emphasized Marija Mijović, visiting national TV show Jutarnji program Dobro Jutro Crna Goro on the occasion of marking the global initiative.  The video material was presented during the program.

The exhibition of the photographs done by local activist was posted at the independence square in Podgorica, where campaign promotional materials were distributed and photo boot was set for people to take photos …

The photos taken during the campaign by professional photographer Marija Jovanović were exposed in the Concept Art Space gallery for a week.

You can see more photos following this link>>>

A month of Support. Don’t Punish activities in Albania

Our Albanian colleagues from the organisation Aksion Plus organised a sensitization campaign in the cities of Durres and Tirana in May and June 2019 as their contribution to the Support. Don’t Punish campaign.

On 9 May, a workshop was organized with the students of “5 October” High School. This workshop consisted in informing young people about drug use based on Aksion Plus’s many years of experience in providing services, awareness campaigns focusing on drug use as well as publishing of informative materials. Young students were also organized into work in groups in order to have everyone’s involvement and engagement. Additionally, a presentation by some of the school youth about their knowledge of the phenomenon of drug use was presented.

The focus of the meeting held on 16 May in the University of New York was the discussion with prospective professionals on issues that affect the reality of drug users, HIV / AIDS, giving special importance to prevention and damage reduction policies. These realities are already noticeably tangible in every part of society. Also discussed about the “Support, Don’t Punish” campaign.

This workshop in the High school “Charles Telford Erickson” held on 23 May consisted in informing students about drug use based on Aksion Plus’s many years of experience in providing services: Methadone Maintenance Therapy, Psychological Counselling, HIV Testing, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Syphilis, Hep B, Hep C and awareness campaigns. It was presented a video. Young students were also organized into work in groups in order to have everyone’s involvement and engagement.

This workshop in the High school “Gramoz Palushi”, including 4 representatives of Caritas Albania, was held on 14 June. A video was presented. Young students were also organized into work in groups in order to have everyone’s involvement and engagement. The goal was to involve all students in an interactive way. At the end of the workshop, some space was left for their questions, comments about what was discussed, and what suggestions they had about future workshops.

Support. Don’t Punish activities in 2019

Support. Don’t Punish is a global grassroots-centred initiative in support of harm reduction and drug policies that prioritise public health and human rights. The campaign seeks to put harm reduction on the political agenda by strengthening the mobilisation capacity of affected communities and their allies, opening dialogue with policy makers, and raising awareness among the media and the public.

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe coordinates activities of the campaign in South East Europe around the Global Day of Action 26 June – which is also the United Nations’ International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

The campaign 2019 shall have in South East Europe:

  • 9 countries
  • 11 cities
  • 20+ organisations
  • 40+ activities
  • 200+ volunteers
  • 000+ citizens informed
  • Various social networks

Organisations around the region will organise raising awareness events, lectures and workshops, creating and promoting guidelines on human rights, banner and pictures campaigns, producing videos, photo exhibitions, disseminating promotional materials, meetings with the local authorities, public debates and press conferences, pub quizzes, collecting and distributing personal hygiene items for women, marches on city centres, showing movies and documentaries, taking photos in a selfie cab, and much more.

For the launch of the Global Day of Action, DPNSEE will organise “Kick-off event” to start the campaign in South East Europe. The event will be held in the EU Info Centre in Belgrade, Kralja Milana 7, on 19 June 2019 at 10h.

To find out what is planned in your city or country, follow this link>>>

To see more about the campaign worldwide, follow this link>>>

Tuzla joined the Support. Don’t Punish campaign again

The Support. Don’t Punish campaign in Tuzla, Bosnia Herzegovina started on 11 June 2018 with showing film “I want to wake up” three times for the population of high school students and three times for the population of students. The goal was to point out the problem of education of this population and reduce stigma and discrimination against drug users. In this way, the message and the global goals of the campaign was promoted and shared among young people.

Association Margina had an ambitious plan to hold a public debate and press conference “CANTONAL INSTITUTION FOR DISEASES – Why do we not have it?” as introductory event to the entire day of action on 26th of June where Bosnia and Herzegovina National Drug Strategy 2018 – 2023, Policy to reduce drug use damage in the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina, Decisions of the Government and the Tuzla Canton Assembly on the establishment of the “Institute for Addiction of the Tuzla Canton” should have been presented. Unfortunately, this activity was cancelled, because just before the start of the entire campaign, health workers started striking, both to fight for their rights, but also due to poor conditions for patients. The strike escalated in a way that 1.370 doctors and more than 4.000 medical technicians locked in their dismissals.

Regardless of the cancelled public debate, Margina have drawn good lessons from this process, as a model of pressure and struggle for the human rights of professionals and patients in whose interests they work. In the upcoming period they plan a meeting or a series of them with the Health Workers Union, in order to try to organize joint activities to improve the quality of services for drug users.

Still, a street action was organised in the city of Tuzla, including disseminating promotional materials, meeting people and spreading information about the campaign and work of the association.

Creative ways to organise the campaign

This year’s campaign NGO Prevent from Novi Sad, Serbia, started on June 11th by publishing a contest for the best short video on the topic “Support, Don’t Punish”. The idea is that a video needed to send a message that is consistent with key campaign messages. The best video has been awarded money prize.

The next step was the beginning of promoting infographics on social networks Facebook and Instagram Important data for use in the infographics were previously extracted and graphic designer was engaged to prepare layouts. The advantage of the infographics is that they are much more compact and easier to read than the text itself. People like this way of displaying data and this is the reason why this method is chosen. The first of a total of 5 infographics was promoted on June 18th.

On June 21st, Prevent begun to promote previously created Facebook profile picture frame, with the logo and campaign message. Those who set up this frame for 7 days, received symbolic gifts from the Prevent Association (game similar to “Don’t get angry, man” created by the Prevent members, which indicates dangers of using psychoactive substances).

On June 21st, the press release was sent about the action of the Prevent Association in Novi Sad, within the global campaign. On the same day, the news was posted on the Prevent site and Facebook ads were paid for better promotion of the event. The result was a good response from the media.

The action lasted from 17:00 to 20:00 on 26 June at the city beach “Štrand”. The “Selfie” photo cabin has succeeded in attracting a fairly large number of people, who also had the opportunity to be informed by members of the Association to Prevent and get promotional educational material.

Successful campaign in Montenegro

On the 22nd of June, NGO Juventas and NGO 4Life, announced the campaign by photographing in front of the city assembly with transparents – symbolic because it is the home of those who make decisions in this country. On this occasion, press releases were issued.

On the 26th of June 2018, NGO Juventas, along with Montenegrin Harm Reduction Network, marked the campaign night in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, at the venue “Koncept Art Space”.

The public tribune was held and people speaking were members of NGO Link, coordinator of Harm reduction program for PWID/SW from NGO Juventas Marija Milić and psychologist from the Institute of Public Health, Tatijana Đurišić Mandić. The tribune targeted youth and new psychoactive substances, as well as the parents and public in general, which are in Montenegro uneducated and not willing to find out ways to help their children/family members/community members in need.

The tribune was very productive as every person present were involved in the discussion, giving us as facilitators of excellent inputs for the future planning of activities with the youth.

After the tribune, documentary movie about harm reduction in Montenegro was played for the first time in public, as well as documentaries from region, all filmed by Drugreporter from Hungary.

The venue where the event was held is near the Government building, and we wanted to draw the attention by placing a big “Support. Don’t Punish” sign on venue’s window.

The reason why we have held an event like this – we wanted to attract as many people from the community, to hear our stories, to hear what are we fighting with and to realize that people who use drugs have voices too.

On 27 June, the last activity was held and included setting up an information stand at the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Montenegro.

The night of the campaign was preceded by the opening of Facebook page “Support. Don’t Punish. Mne”, organization of venue, the engagement of photographers for the production of photographs for labels, posters and programs for the campaign, printing of prepared material, engagement of participants, refreshments and transportation.

Media coverage:

Discussing for matters that matter to us

For one more year, the global campaign “Support. Don’t Punish” has been successfully implemented in Greece, with the valuable support of Drug Policy Network South East Europe, that effectively coordinated the implementation of the activities among the different countries in the SEE region, and International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) – responsible for the overall coordination of the campaign around the world.

This year in Greece, 7 different civil society organizations – that constitute the Greek NGO Platform for Psychoactive Substances*, an unofficial initiative for joint action among organizations working in the area of drug policy and psychoactive substances – joined forces and cooperated in order to effectively spread the message of the campaign, sensitize the public, raise awareness regarding the harms being caused by the criminalization of people who use drugs and promote the need for human rights and public health oriented drug policy and drug law reform.

These organizations co-organized a joint event, an open dialogue meeting entitled: “Support. Don’t Punish” – Discussing for matters that matter to us. The event took place on Tuesday, June 26, 2018, at 7 pm, at the Athens Municipal Cellular Market (42, Fokionos Negris str). The aim of the dialogue was to discuss regarding: current public health and drug policies applied in addressing the issue of psychoactive substances, the way users are being treated by the state and society, the issue of combating crime that accompanies drug use by law enforcement and finally the removal of unjustified social stereotypes at the expense of PWUD, the importance for the provision of substantial support, as well as the need for equal, meaningful and substantial participation of users community in procedures totally concerning them.

The open dialogue meeting started with the presentation of the SDP campaign, important issues on the current national drug policy and the priorities set out by the community of PWUD by Mr. Anastasiou Christos (representative of PeNUPS) who also coordinated the discussion. Mrs. Katerina Konidari, psychologist, social researcher and writer, talked about the representation of addiction treatment on art; Mr. Michalis Lolis, Police Lieutenant of the A’ (First) Police Department for Combating Racist Violence, communicated his experience on human rights’ issues and the protection of people with different identities and Mr. Yannis Kissas, representative of PeNUPS specifically referred to the Network’s proposals for supportive policies rather than the punishment of drug users.

This year the participation at the event exceeded our expectations. More than 80 people from different backgrounds (e.g. scientists, professionals working in the field of drugs, representative from the Ministry of Health, people from the community of PWUD, volunteers from different organizations, activists, representatives from residents’ initiative, people with no prior involvement from the general population, etc.) were present at our event, who actively participated in the discussion by sharing their reflections, raising questions and contributing from their point of view. At the end of the event, following an online vote among members of the Network a symbolic prize (an office compass) was awarded at the OKANA Substitution Unit which according to Peers’ view provides the most friendly and integrated services to PWUD.

The press release for the event was published by many different online media sites. Moreover, ERT – Greek public state television – expressed the interest to present our event. Mr Christos Anastasiou, Μr Thanos Papagianopoulos and Mr. Marios Atzemis – all representatives of the community of PWUD – were hosted by the journalist Mr. Arvanitis Kostas at his broadcast entitled “Different Dimension” and talked about the campaign, promoted the message that PWUD need support instead of punishment, underlined the need for active involvement of PWUD in the decision making processes and the need to address stigma and marginalization.


*The NGO Platform for psychoactive substances consists of the following organizations:
PeNUPS – Peer Network of Users of Psychoactive Substances
CENTRE FOR LIFE for the support of people living with HIV/AIDS [DPNSEE member]
DIOGENIS – Drug Policy Dialogue [IDPC partner member & DPNSEE partner member]
POSITIVE VOICE – Association of People living with HIV/AIDS [DPNSEE member]
PROMETHEUS – Hellenic Liver Patient Association [DPNSEE member]
PRAKSIS [IDPC network member]
STEPS