Drug policy evaluation models presented

DPNSEE and Trimbos Institute hosted the Webinar “Drug Policy evaluations: opportunities to support inclusive, effective and evidence-based public policy” on Wednesday 10 February 2021. The aim of the Webinar was to provide information on drug policy evaluation as an effective instrument to guide, manage and support effective policies and services.

The Webinar included an introduction on drug policy evaluations and presentations on approach and methods and experiences from the evaluations performed in Croatia and Cyprus. Discussions in three separate discussion rooms followed on different segments of a policy/strategy cycle.

More than 90 representatives of governmental organisations, both on national and local level, academia, civil society organisations, coming from 31 countries, and international organisations participated.

The presentations from the Conference are ready to download:

  • Introduction to drug policy evaluation: Liesbeth Vandam, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction following this link>>>
  • Drug Policy evaluations: approach and methods: John-Peter Kools, Trimbos Institute following this link>>>
  • Drugs policy evaluation – experience and benefits: Sanja Mikulić, Head, Service for combating drugs abuse, Croatian Institute of Public Health, Croatia following this link>>>
  • Online opportunities: Daan van der Gouwe, Trimbos Institute following this link>>>
  • Experiences from online/hybrid evaluation: Chrysantos Georgiou, Cyprus following this link>>>.


Webinar on Drug Policy Evaluations

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe and Trimbos Institute invite you to participate in the webinar that will provide information on drug policy evaluation as an effective instrument to guide, manage and support effective policies and services. The Webinar is supported by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and the European Civil Society Forum on Drugs.

The Webinar will present an insight on how various actors can contribute to a process of monitoring and evaluation of drug policies and can benefit from. It will:

  • showcase the benefits of drug policy evaluations
  • provide examples of recent regional drug policy (e.g. Croatia, Cyprus)
  • provide opportunities of online evaluations

The webinar may serve as a source of inspiration to support all those involved process of building better drug policies. It is especially suitable for regional drug policy makers, regional civil society groups, European and other interested participants.

The Plenary introductions will include:

  • Introduction on drug policy evaluations
  • Drug Policy evaluations: approach and methods
  • Benefits from independent evaluation
  • Online opportunities
  • Experiences from online/hybrid evaluation.

Three parallel breakout sessions will follow on What is needed to prepare a national drug policy?, How to monitor progress? and How to learn from and improve policies?

The Webinar will be held via Zoom at the following link https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86598224178 on Wednesday 10 February 2021 starting at 14:00 CET. The Webinar will last for 120 minutes.

As the number of participants is limited, please register by Monday 8 February using the form attached here>>>.


ESPAD Report 2019

The latest European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) report, published in collaboration with the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA), was presented on 12 November 2020. ESPAD is a collaborative network of independent research teams in over 40 European countries and the largest cross-national research project on adolescent substance use in the world. It is coordinated by the ESPAD Italian team at the National Research Council of Italy (CNR-IFC).

This report presents the results from the seventh wave of data collection, conducted in 35 countries during the spring and autumn of 2019. That includes nine out of 11 South East European countries – all except Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina. A total of 99 647 pupils participated in the latest survey round, responding to an anonymous questionnaire.

It gives a comprehensive picture of the present situation among European young people as regards the use of cigarettes, alcohol, illicit drugs, inhalants, new psychoactive substances and pharmaceuticals, but also insights into gambling, social media use and gaming. The report also presents an overview of trends over the time period 1995-2019.

The latest survey shows that, on average, one in six school pupils (17 per cent) reported having used an illicit drug at least once in their life, with levels varying considerably across the ESPAD countries (range: 4.2 per cent–29 per cent). Lifetime prevalence of illicit drug use in this group has been declining slightly since 2011, although has been generally stable over the past two decades. The non-medical use of prescription drugs among adolescents remains a concern, the statement said.

Cannabis is still the illicit drug most used by school pupils in ESPAD countries. On average, 16 per cent of respondents reported using cannabis at least once in their lifetime (11 per cent in 1995), while 7.1 per cent reported last-month use (4.1 per cent in 1995).

Alcohol use remains high among adolescents in Europe, with an average of over three-quarters (79 per cent) of school pupils having used alcohol in their lifetime and almost half (47 per cent) having used it in the last month. The prevalence of “heavy episodic drinking” reached its lowest level in the 2019 survey (35 per cent), following a peak in 2007 (43 per cent). Changes in drinking regulations at national level may have contributed to the decline in alcohol use among young people, the statement said.

Positive developments are also seen with regard to teenage smoking, against a backdrop of tobacco policy measures introduced over the last two decades. Between 1995 and 2019, ESPAD averages for cigarette use declined for lifetime use (68 per cent to 42 per cent); current use (33 per cent to 20 per cent) and daily use (20 per cent to 10 per cent). New data reveal high prevalence of e-cigarette smoking — 40 per cent for lifetime use and 14 per cent for last-month use — with those who have never smoked cigarettes (‘never smokers’) reporting higher rates of this behaviour than ‘occasional smokers’ and ‘regular smokers’.

The 2019 ESPAD results show that gambling for money has become a popular activity among school pupils in Europe, with 22 per cent of respondents reporting gambling on at least one game in the past 12 months (predominantly lotteries). Around 60 per cent of respondents reported having played digital games on a typical school day within the last month (69 per cent on a non-school day). In most countries, boys spend twice as much time gaming as girls.

Around 94 per cent of respondents reported use of social media in the past week. On average, users spent two to three hours on social media on a typical school day, rising to six or more hours on non-school days. In most countries, girls reported using social media on non-school days more frequently than boys.

You can download the report and access all of the source data following this link>>>.

Source data in Excel format has been split into two separate archives: (1) data used to generate graphics and tables in the main report and (2) additional tables with more results not presented in the main report.


Registration opens for European Drugs Winter and Summer Schools 2021

From the EMCDDA news

The EMCDDA and the University Institute of Lisbon (ISCTE-IUL) opened registration for two upcoming joint events in 2021: the European Drugs Winter School (EDWS) and the European Drugs Summer School (EDSS).

EDWS 1–12 March 2021 (online): Following the success of the EDSS in 2020, taught remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers have decided to deliver the first virtual EDWS in 2021. The theme of the event will be Responses to, and preparedness for, health-related threats (COVID-19 lessons learned). Following a similar structure to the 2020 edition, the two-week course will feature live lunchtime lectures with experts and practitioners, followed by afternoon exercises. Virtual fieldwork tours will also be offered. Completion of exercises and an exam are compulsory for those wishing to obtain credits. The sessions will be recorded and available for subsequent viewing. Increasing the offer of online training is in line with the EMCDDA’s digital transformation objectives. Registration EDWS Phase 1: 19 October 2020–8 February 2021 (notification of acceptance on 12 February 2021).

EDSS 28 June–9 July 2021 (Lisbon): This year, the two-week course will focus on Vulnerable groups. Sessions will include lectures on the prevention of drug-related problems; social determinants of drug use and interventions for vulnerable groups (homeless, prisoners, migrants). Study visits will be organised to one of the Portuguese commissions for dissuasion as well as a local harm reduction centre. During the course, students will participate in interactive workshops to discuss their own projects and views. The course will conclude with an open debate with guest speakers, followed by an exam for those wishing to obtain credits. All recommended COVID-19 safety measures will be put in place, if applicable. Deposits and fees will be reimbursed if the summer school is cancelled in case of force majeure, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Registration EDSS Phase 1: 19 October 2020–28 February 2021 (notification of acceptance on 5 March 2021). Phase 2: 1 March 2021–7 June 2021 (notification of acceptance on 11 June 2021).

The target audiences for the two events are: university students, researchers, professionals and administrators interested in working on drug issues. The previous rounds of the EDSS brought together students from the EU Member States as well as from Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas. Profiles of former alumni and their testimonials can be found on the official summer school website and their statements viewed in a promotional video.

The courses prepare professionals and students to meet the complex policy challenges that face Europe in the field of drugs. Involving scientific experts from the EMCDDA, university professors and policymakers, they provide a multi-disciplinary and inclusive approach to the study of the drugs problem in Europe and beyond.

In 2021, students will again be able to apply for scholarships. Agreements with the IPA7 and EU4MD projects will also be sought for bursaries targeting key national experts. ‘Early-bird’ reductions will be available. The EDSS will be run in English.

For more on the EDWS and EDSS, see here >>.

Catherine Moury, EDSS Scientific Director – drugsummerschool.cies@iscte.pt.
Marica Ferri, Scientific programme – Marica.Ferri@emcdda.europa.eu.


European Drug Report 2020

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) launched today the European Drug Report 2020: Trends and Developments. In its latest annual review – marking 25 years of monitoring – the agency describes the drug situation at the end of 2019, along with recent changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

High availability across all drug types, drug production within Europe and highly potent substances are among the concerns addressed today. New developments highlighted in the report include: record cocaine, and large heroin, seizures; a scaling up of synthetic drug production; and concerns around high-potency cannabis, new synthetic opioids and ecstasy tablets containing high levels of MDMA. Drawing on new EMCDDA rapid studies (Spring 2020), the report also reviews COVID-19 disruption to drug use and the market, which could have long-term implications for Europe’s drug services and law enforcement agencies. There are fears that innovative drug distribution models developed during lockdown, along with the economic impact of the pandemic on vulnerable communities, will add to the challenges already posed by an abundant supply of drugs.

The following ‘Key issues’ have been identified in this year’s analysis:

  • Large drug shipments are increasingly intercepted
  • Cocaine’s role in Europe’s drug problem is increasing
  • Potential for increased heroin use and existing harms raise concerns
  • Understanding the public health impact of high-potency cannabis and new products
  • Increased and diverse drug production within Europe
  • Continuing availability of high-strength MDMA products highlights need for greater user awareness
  • Growing complexity in the drug market poses regulatory challenges and health risks
  • Need for new tools and innovative strategies to support the scaling-up of hepatitis C treatment
  • Drug overdose is increasingly associated with an ageing population
  • New psychoactive substances (NPS) have become a more persistent problem
  • Appearance of novel synthetic opioids is a worrying example of continuing market adaptability

To read the Report and get more information, follow this link>>>.

Presentations from the launch are available at Youtube:

Here is the video with a quick overview of the key issues covered in the European Drug Report 2020.

Collection of models of good practice

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) Guidance Prevention and control of infectious diseases among people who inject drugs identifies good practice for prevention and control of infectious diseases among people who inject drugs. This guidance aims to support policy makers in Europe to plan adequate, evidence-based, pragmatic, and rationally designed public health responses for the prevention and control of infections among people who inject drugs. It aims at public health programme planners and decision makers working in the fields of infectious diseases, general public health, addiction and mental healthcare, social services, and drug control at national and regional levels.

Published n 2011, the Guidance is currently being updated. In addition to ongoing systematic reviews of peer-reviewed literature, a collection of models of good practice has been initiated by the two agencies, that should add practice-based evidence derived from interventions implemented in real-life, European settings.

The two EU agencies are inviting applications to report models of good practice targeting PWID population aiming to:

  • improve community-based testing
  • increase linkage to care
  • increase adherence to treatment of infection interventions
  • prevention or reduction of infections through successful health promotion approaches

The infections of interest are hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), HIV and tuberculosis (TB).

Should you or your organisation be interested in reporting a model of good practice that fits the scope of this call, please express your interest following this link>>>.

European Drug Report 2020 to be released on 22 September

The EU drugs agency (EMCDDA) launches its European Drug Report 2020: Trends and Developments in a live online media event on 22 September.

In this latest annual review – marking 25 years of monitoring – the EMCDDA describes the drug situation at the end of 2019, along with recent changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

The report provides a comprehensive analysis of patterns emerging across the EU, Turkey and Norway in the areas of drug supply, illicit drug use and associated public health problems. National data sets are also provided across these themes and on key harm-reduction interventions. In a new format, chapters are organised primarily by drug type and by related harms.

Accompanying the report this year will be a Key Issues summary (in 24 languages), presenting a selection of the main findings from the latest analysis, chosen for their policy relevance and general interest. The 2020 Statistical Bulletin, containing the European dataset underpinning the report, will also be available.

Attend the live online media event to hear the key issues and latest analysis on 22 September 2020 at 10.00 (Lisbon), 11.00 CET.

Further details will be available in the run-up to the launch at: www.emcdda.europa.eu/edr2020.


A realistic insight into the consequences of COVID-19 to vulnerable populations

DPNSEE held the Conference “Social, mental and economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic to the vulnerable populations in SEE: Do we know them and how to recognise and respond to them?” with support of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions and Correlation – Harm Reduction Network.

39 representatives of civil society organisations, national drug agencies, international organisations and agencies and donor community participated.

Initial results of the EMCDDA study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans, as well as Correlation’s approach to collecting data from the point of view of civil society which can be of use in establishing our indicators and method of collecting them. Our colleagues gave us a very realistic view on the situation in their countries and efforts they made to provide services needed.

We hope to produce and distribute the report from the Conference in the next few days.

The presentations from the Conference are ready to download:

  • Kateřina Škařupová, PhD, Scientific analyst on health at the IPA project, European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA): Initial results of the study on Impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs and drug services in the Western Balkans following this link>>>
  • Roberto Perez Gayo, Project Officer at the Correlation – Harm Reduction Network: Results of the harm reduction response to the epidemic in Europe following this link>>>
  • Marija Radović, Coordinator of the department of direct assistance to people who use/inject drugs, sex workers and prisoners at Juventas, Montenegro: The influence of the COVID19 on the social and economic status of persons who use/inject drugs following this link>>>


Expanding the mandate of EMCDDA

The European Union has published a proposal for regulation, concerning an extended mandate of the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The Agency was established in 1993 with the mission to provide the EU and its Member States with factual, objective, reliable and comparable information at European level on drugs and drug addiction and their consequences. The Commission undertook an evaluation of the Agency in 2018/19 which showed that EMCDDA is recognised as a hub of excellence in Europe and internationally. Although the evaluation showed that the functioning of the Agency in relation to the five evaluation criteria (coherence, relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, EU added-value) is positive, it also pointed out that further improvements would be beneficial in several areas.

The general objective of a revision of the EMCDDA Regulation would be to have an Agency, which is appropriately equipped to deal with the current and future challenges posed by drugs in the EU. The specific objectives of a potential proposal are to:

  • Increase the Agency’s capacity to react faster and in a more targeted way to new challenges in the field of drugs and addictions and related threats;
  • Deepen the monitoring and analysis of the drug phenomenon in Europe, both on the supply and demand side;
  • Better clarify the mandate of the Agency as regards what substances should be covered; and
  • Provide support to Member States in shaping and evaluating their drugs policies.

DG HOME launched an impact assessment analysis in the first quarter of 2020 to support the preparation of this initiative and to inform the Commission’s decision. The feedback period is from 4 June to 30 July 2020.

To give a feedback on this initiative, please follow this link>>>


Impact of COVID-19 in Western Balkans

The EMCDDA has initiated a project investigating the impact of COVID-19 on people who use drugs, drug markets and challenges for drug service provision in the Western Balkans.

The  project is conducted using an adapted version of the Trendspotter methodology with the objective to increase our understanding of the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic and national containment measures on  patterns of drug use, emerging harms and challenges and adaptations of  drug service providers in the Western Balkan region, as well as identify potential national best practices in responding to  this public health challenge. We take a step-wise approach with the first investigation focusing on service provision, followed by drug use patterns and risks and security issues.

The  investigation has multiple components  – namely expert surveys and facilitated groups.

The survey is available here: https://ec.europa.eu/eusurvey/runner/Covid-19-IPA7-health. The deadline for completing it is the 12th of June.

In the second step, EMCDDA will be approaching regional experts from drug services and informed about service provision (OST, needle exchange programmes, harm reduction, treatment, drug services in prisons) in order to get a more in-depth understanding of the developments via facilitated groups.