New Psychoactive Substance use in Eastern Europe

From the EHRA webpage

The phenomenon of new psychoactive substances (NPS) started decades ago with the growth and production of drugs that replicate the effects of controlled drugs (such as amphetamines, cocaine, cannabis and heroin) but avoid legislative control based on different chemical structures.

In recent years, the increasing use of NPS has led to new threats for health of people who use drugs (PWUD) – including overdose, psychotic reactions, high HIV risks due to multiple injections and increased number of sexual contacts. However, in many countries service providers such as harm reduction, drug treatment programs and ambulance services are not prepared to provide PWUD with quality support and counselling to reduce risks of NPS.

In the Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CEECA) region the situation with NPS is truly alarming and has become one of the major challenges for the national public health systems, local NGOs, communities PWUD.

The Eurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) in partnership with School of Law, Swansea University undertook the project “New Psychoactive Substance Use in Moldova, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, and Serbia” to generate a more accurate picture of the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and to assess harm reduction and law enforcement responses to the emerging issues related to use of NPS. Results from this project will supplement scarce international data on the use of NPS in these countries, present a more accurate picture of their use, and provide information to national civil society organizations (CSOs) for political advocacy.

Irena Molnar, a researcher from the non-governmental organization Re Generation (the only CSO that conducts activities aimed at dealing with NPS in Serbia, DPNSEE member organisation), prepared the report for Serbia, the only country involved in the project from South East Europe. Here is a brief overview of it:

The appearance of NPS in Serbia is not a new phenomenon, but their market share is very small. NPS have been talked about for a whole decade, although scientific research and answers to their appearance in the form of special services aimed at ensuring the health and well-being of users, but also the whole society, have not progressed at all.

Among other things, the report examines in detail the actions taken by the state in the context of this issue and formulates recommendations for improvement. For example, in order to improve the response to problems related to the emergence and use of NPS, greater state involvement is needed in terms of adapting to rapid market changes. This means not only putting substances on the banned list, for which Serbia is very up to date, but also improving the entire system.

To read the reports, follow this link>>>.

 

Terms of reference for technical consultant to support field data collection on NPS in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Serbia

EHRAIn the framework of project “New Psychoactive Substance Use in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and SerbiaEurasian Harm Reduction Association (EHRA) is seeking to engage technical consultants, one consultant per country, for conducting research on new psychoactive substances (hereinafter – NPS) use in the four countries. This research project is a collaboration between EHRA and the the School of Law, Swansea University, UK.

The assessment is aimed to analyze existing evidence and documents to overview the

  1. existing statistics/data on NPS use from various sources,
  2. researches of patterns of use and procurement of NPS (via clubs, darknet, etc),
  3. existing algorithms of ambulance and police actions, and
  4. availability of harm reduction services for NPS users, and how existing services needs to adapt to meet the needs created by NPS in four countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Serbia. This research will be conducted using the same methodology as one, done already in Moldova and Belarus.

The potential candidates should:

  • collect national data sources (such as website links, documents (in word, pdf formats), presentations and other materials) on NPS (documents and research data on drug use, behavior and harm reduction services, existing laws on health and drug policy). If documents are in national language – to make summary of the document with main quotes and translate it into English or Russian;
    to organize the field data collection:
  • recruit respondents from community of people who use drugs for focus-groups;
  • arrange interviews with officials from law enforcement and health services, harm reduction services (list of needed interviewees will be agreed with EHRA);
  • according the collected national sources on NPS use, together with EHRA staff member to adjust questionnaire for interviews/ focus groups;
  • organize logistics for the interviews/ focus-groups (place, time, coffee breaks for focus-group participants);
  • make notes during interviews and focus-groups;
  • make transcripts of the focus group discussion and interviews (in Russian or English);
  • help EHRA staff member to validate data of the report prepared by EHRA with respondents.

Soft copies of all collected data and minutes of interviews should be shared with EHRA via DropBox or GoogleDrive. In case of using quotes from individuals, the consultant must have a signed informed consent from each interviewee.

The candidates are invited to submit their CV and letter of interest with suggested respondents list, and state the daily rate in EUR (should be provided in EHRA’s template) by e-mail referenced under title “Technical Consultant” to Eliza Kurcevic at eliza@harmreductioneurasia.org by 5th January 2020, 24:00 EET. Results will be announced by January 10th, 2020. Each candidate will be contacted individually.

For more information about the Association and specifics of the work follow this link.

 

Training for a safe night environment

DPNSEE member organizations Re Generation and Udruga Terra joined in two days training activity, held in Rijeka, Croatia on 11 and 12 April 2019. The training “New psychoactive substances and outreach for a safe night environment” was held by Irena Molnar i Bojan Arsenijević from Serbian NGO Re Generation.

The purpose of the training was raising the capacity of young people and work with their peers in order to have a safer night environment. Re Generacija’s Training of peer educators for volunteering in nightlife setting and on festivals includes following topics:

  • Drugs – tradition – illness or crime
  • Harm Reduction Programs. Nightlife outreach and peer education (may include good examples of practice around the globe)
  • Prevention of the final negative outcome (overdose) and basic First AID for nightlife setting
  • New psychoactive substances (may include different examples of drug checking services)

Young activists of the Association Terra team, employees and volunteers, engaged in harm reduction program, visited the clubs of youth gathering in Rijeka with Re Generation representatives, evaluated the information and reports from training in practice.

New publication from UNODC Toxicology Portal

The first volume of the new biannual Current NPS Threats was launched with data reported to the Toxicology Portal (Tox-Portal) of the UNODC Early Warning Advisory on NPS developed in collaboration with The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT) that collects data on toxicology and harm related to the use of new psychoactive substances (NPS) at a global level.

These data from post-mortem, clinical and other casework were reported by toxicology laboratories from 29 countries in all regions of the world and allowed to identify some key recent developments regarding health threats posed by NPS:

  • Synthetic cannabinoids, synthetic opioids and stimulants account for the majority of NPS reported to the Tox-Portal
  • Synthetic cannabinoids, in particular remain harmful, persistent and prevalent with more reports in 2018 than synthetic opioids
  • Poly-drug use continues to be a factor and an important consideration in NPS fatalities
  • Benzodiazepine-type NPS feature highly in driving under the influence of drugs.

To download this publication follow this link>>>>

Annual Drug Policy Conference

The Annual Regional Conference in South East Europe was organised in Thessaloniki from 8 to 10 June 2017. The conference aimed to bring together NGOs, policy makers and researchers active in the drugs field in the region of South East Europe, in order to discuss drug policy developments and trends, exchange experiences and best practices in the region, Europe and the United Nations.

The conference is part of the regional project “Strengthening NGO capacity and promoting public health and human rights oriented drug policy in South East Europe”, supported financially by the European Commission and the Open Society Foundations. The organiser was Diogenis, Drug Policy Dialogue.

National drug coordinators from Romania and Croatia

The Conference agenda included a large number of interesting issues:

  • The Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and drug policy. Priority issues, the role of UN agencies, expected commitments from the member states and role of NGOs. Presenter was Jo Dedeyne-Amann, Chief Secretariat to the Governing Bodies, Division for Treaty Affairs, UNODC. Nikos Stergiou, Communication and public relations Officer, Diogenis, presented experience of two local meetings.
  • Initiatives undertaken in the countries of our region related to implementation of the outcomes of the UNGASS and the role of NGOs. National drug coordinators presented work in their countries: drug co-ordinators: Sorin Oprea (Romania), Milan Pekić (Serbia), Željko Petković (Croatia) and Manina Terzidou, head of the Greek Monitoring Centre for Drugs (EKTEPN) (Greece)
  • Women and Drugs. Facts and Special Characteristics for Girls and Women who use drugs was the presentation from Meni Malliori, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Athens, while Georgia Aslanidou, Psychologist, OKANA Thessaloniki presented about Addicted mothers and the journey of therapy
  • Drugs and internet: experiences, opportunities and concerns in the use of online counselling tools presented by Ilias Paraskevopoulos, Consultant for addictions at KETHEA ITHAKI
  • The Harm reduction project in South East Europe. Developments and next steps presented by Sofia Galinaki, Advocacy Officer, Diogenis and Peers’ involvement in harm reduction, with introduction from Christos Anastasiou, Peer Network of Users of Psychoactive Substances (PENUPS).
  • Irena Molnar and Bojan Arsenijević from the NGO Re Generation, Serbia provided valuable insight into Changing culture in drug use including new psychoactive substances
  • Developments in the discussion about cannabis policy in countries of SEE
Irena Molnar presenting about Changing culture in drug use including new psychoactive substances

Representatives from 14 DPNSEE member organisations, 3 Board members and all 5 Staff were at the Conference. We presented the Network, strategic priorities and plans for the future. Our two volunteers talked about their work on the Glossary and Resource Pool.

Marios Atzemis, DPNSEE Board member, making an intervention

The Conference was a very good opportunity to share and learn about interesting ideas and make plans for the future.