Manifesto for the upcoming European Elections

Several European networks and organisations working in the area of drugs (DPNSEE indluding), initiated by Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network and NEWNet Enjoying Safer Nightlife, have joined forces to prepare a document that lays down a vision for a pragmatic, innovative, and human rights-centred European drug policy that will deliver healthier and safer communities and invite candidates for the Members of the European Parliament and various political parties to support it.

The Manifesto for the 2024 European Parliament Elections For a drug policy that makes Europe safer, healthier, and more just Drug Policy is available by following this link>>>.

DPNSEE has signed the Manifesto and recommends that you join us and our colleagues from around Europe in this effort.

Additionally, if you are interested in being an active campaign member, reaching out to candidates for the European Parliament, etc., please write to Marie Nougier (mnougier@idpc.net) and she will loop you in with the campaign core group. The group has developed a toolkit to support campaign members!

 

Drug consumption rooms in Europe

From the Correlation website

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) have published the latest overview on the situation of drug consumption rooms (DCRs) in Europe. The purpose of the report is to encourage evidence-based discussions around DCRs and the implementation of varied DCR models in Europe.

The report is based on a mixed-methods approach, including a review of documents published by EMCDDA and C-EHRN up to 2020, together with a structured literature search for new peer-reviewed (MEDLINE) and grey publications, including relevant health and public-order outcomes of drug consumption rooms and covering the most recent years (2020 and 2021).

DCRs are a fundamental health and social response that fosters the well-being of people who use drugs by providing hygienic and safer spaces where to use substances in the presence of trained social workers and/or healthcare professionals. DCRs are usually located in areas where there is an open drug scene and where injecting in public places is common. The primary target group for DCR services are people who engage in drug use patterns that can result in dangerous health outcomes.

According to the report, in 2022, there were over 100 DCRs operating globally, with services in several EU countries such as Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Spain, as well as in Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Mexico and the USA.

Primarily, DCRs aim to prevent drug-related overdose deaths, reduce the risks of disease transmission through the use of unhygienic supplies and/or their sharing, and connect people who use drugs with support, health and social services. Besides this, they can also aim to minimise public nuisance.

In the report, two main operational models of DCRs in Europe are described: integrated DCRs, operating within low-threshold facilities, where the supervision of drug use is just one of the services offered, and specialised DCRs, offering a narrower range of services directly related to supervised consumption.

As frontline, low-threshold services, DCRs can support the monitoring of new and emerging local trends. For example, it has been found that in Europe, injecting heroin is less common in recent years, while the use of synthetic opioids and stimulants has increased in some countries. Over the years, following a dynamic drug landscape, many harm reduction services, including DCRs, have adapted to the needs of local clients. For example, some DCRs have started providing services for smoking as well as injecting and allowing the consumption of a wider range of substances within the facility.

DCR evaluation presents specific challenges, but currently available evidence support the positive impact of DCRs on the access to healthcare and harm reduction services among people who use drugs, and especially groups that are not reached enough by these services. DCRs do not increase crime in the areas where they are located and, instead, contribute to decrease of public drug use. Evidence also shows how DCRs contribute to reducing drug-related deaths.

In addition, an expert panel recently concluded that DCRs foster safer injecting practices and therefore can contribute to reduce the transmission rate of communicable diseases among people who inject drugs.

Among other measures to reduce cases of fatal and non-fatal overdose, the EU Drugs Action Plan 2021–2025 calls for DCRs to be introduced, maintained or enhanced ‘where appropriate and in accordance with national legislation’.

The report concludes that, despite the challenges encountered in conducting research in this setting, more studies are needed to support the work of DCRs by showing their contributions to reducing both individual and community harms.

Read the joint EMCDDA and C-EHRN Report on DCRs in Europe following this link>>>.

 

The BOOST project launch

DPNSEE President Nebojša Djurasović and Executive Director Milutin Milošević participated at the first meeting of the BOOST Project in Rome 13 – 14 of February. 45 participants from more than 20 organisations joined in the Fondazione Villa Maraini in Rome.

The main aim of the BOOST project is to enhance the implementation of high-quality community-based & community-led communicable disease services as part of a comprehensive, people-centred and integrated harm reduction approach. To ahieve its goal, over the next three years, together with our partners we will focus on four key areas:

  • INFORM – providing a collection of up-to-date information and data on current practice and quality of community-based and community-led services.
  • IMPROVE – supporting the organisation of capacity building activities in the field of communicable diseases, indluding the use of digital tools.
  • SUPPORT – enhancing the scale-up of integrated community-based good practices building up existing models of good practice.
  • CONNECT & ACT – strenghtening and consolidating existing civil society networks and fostering advocacy interventions for the improved implementation comunity-based and community-led good practices oriented towards the needs of people who use drugs at European, national and local levels.

BOOST Project is founded by the EU4Health programme of the European Union, under the Action Grants to support the implementation of best practices in community-based services for HIV, AIDS, viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections. Partners include the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, EuroNPUD, Free Clinic, Podane Ruce, LILA Milano, Asociacion Bienestar y Desarrolo, IGTP/ICO, ISGlobal, Foundazinone Villa Maraini. Supporting the projects work, the project with count with Scientific Advisory Board and the collaboration of organizations such as DPNSEE, ReGeneration, ARAS Foundation, AIDS Action Europe, among others.

The civil society monitoring report 2021

From the Correlation webpage

The Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) published their 2021 civil society monitoring report on 11 May 2022.

The main aim and purpose of C-EHRN monitoring activities is to improve knowledge and information and complement existing data and monitoring efforts in Europe in specific areas of harm reduction based on the perspective of civil society organisations (CSOs). The data collected helps to assess the implementation of certain drug and health policies at the national and local levels and supports our advocacy efforts at the European and EU Member State levels.

The adapted 2021 civil society monitoring incorporated the experiences from the past years. During evaluation meetings with expert groups, it was decided to keep most of the questionnaires in 2020 intact for 2021. That was done both because the questionnaire of 2020 has worked reasonably well and also to allow for comparisons between 2021 and the previous year.

C-EHRN kept our focus on the situation at the city level which allowed for more accurate and precise information. Consequently, the information provided in this report sometimes represents the situation in a particular city or region. Although this information is not representative of a country, it reflects the fact that the situation in a country is diverse and most often dependent upon the approach at the city level. Small modifications were made for clarity in the sections on essential harm reduction services, overdose prevention, Hepatitis C, civil society involvement and new drug trends. More modifications were made in the COVID-19 section to cover a new phase of the pandemic.

In addition to the survey, and on an experimental basis, the expert groups decided to try new forms of data collection. In 2 countries – Finland and the UK – online Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) will be performed to gather data on new drug trends. That was decided due to the low response rate in the online survey and also due to feedback from our Focal Points that this remains the most difficult section of the survey to complete.

More than one hundred organisations and individuals from 34 European countries have contributed to this Monitoring Report. Thanks go to our Focal Points and associated experts at the national and local levels who have filled in the online questionnaire and provided all information and data on time. Without their dedication and commitment, we would not have been able to produce this report.

To read the report, please follow this link>>>.

 

Harm Reduction Key Principles in Homeless Services

Correlation presented the Key Principles of Harm Reduction – an innovative set of tools developed through the HR4Homelessness Project. The innovation lies in their capacity to translate existing experiences and knowledge on Harm Reduction into actionable guidance through an open, iterative and evolving framework.

HR4Homelessness – Integrating Harm Reduction Services in Homelessness Service is an Erasmus+ Project aiming at improving Harm Reduction services for people experiencing homelessness in Europe. The project involves organisations working in the field of homelessness and drug use FEANTSA (Belgium), C-EHRN / De Regenboog Groep (NL), Rights Reporter Foundation (HU), Simon Communities of Ireland (Ireland), Health Team City of Copenhagen (DK), Norte Vida (PT) and SMES-B (Belgium).

The Key Principles aim to contribute to improving and transforming the services that shape access to and the quality of care that people experiencing homelessness who use drugs or alcohol receive. Further, they aim to support these services to respond to conditions that negatively influence marginalised and underserved communities’ social and health outcomes.

The document offers service providers to implement activities that respect the rights of people experiencing homelessness who use drugs or alcohol, which are informed by evidence. It also intends to advance social justice transformations, respect service user decisions and priorities, and contribute to eliminating stigma and discrimination of the communities they work for and with.

To access the document, please follow this link>>>.

 

Harm Reduction Lab on Funding and Sustainability challenges for HR services in Europe

Correlation offers Harm Reduction Labs as a space for collectively imagine what harm reduction can be. The Harm Reduction Labs will offer the possibility to explore collective solutions, as well to imagine what harm reduction can be. In addition to exploring current themes and approached within the harm reduction movement, each Lab will offer space to come together and to identify common and urgent future questions that address broader topics of social justice, bodily autonomy and care, among others. You can find more about this interesting serial following this link>>>.

During the Lab on Funding and Sustainability challenges for HR services in Europe that is offered for Thursday 14 October, Correlation want to address different problem areas and challenges, covering:

  • The lack of funding in different European regions (CEE, SEE and SE)
  • Lack of funding for community-led programmes
  • Lack of funding for advocacy and civil society engagement
  • Causes and impact of the funding challenge
  • Opportunities and needs for advocacy and action
  • Good Practice Examples
  • Innovative approaches

Our Executive Director will be part of the panel, as well as a few other colleagues from the region. The link to the Lab is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85989331796.

 

Monitoring Report 2020 Executive Summary

A civil society-led monitoring of harm reduction can play an essential role in improving service delivery and contribute to the generation of crucial data for advocacy purposes. Civil society organisations (CSO’s) work directly for, and with, people who use drugs (PWUD) and have a good understanding of their daily needs. Their inside knowledge is critical in developing adequate drug policies and practices.

To complement the work of other monitoring agencies, and to bring insight into how the implementation of harm reduction occurs, Correlation -European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) has published a report on Civil Society Monitoring of Harm Reduction in Europe since 2019. It gathers data on the experiences of harm reduction service providers and service users at ground level, building on a network of national Focal Points (FPs) in Europe. For the 2020 monitoring, C-EHRN includes 35 FPs in 34 countries, as shown in the map below. To get insight at the implementation level, and to profit from the experiences and expertise of FPs, the 2020 monitoring focuses mostly on cities rather than countries.

To read the Executive Summary, available also in several languages, follow this link>>>.

 

Cannabis Quick Tests and synthetic cannabinoids

Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network has published a factsheet on “Cannabis Quick Tests and synthetic cannabinoids“.

This factsheet aims to provide information to reduce the risk of unintentionally consuming synthetic cannabinoids by users of illegal cannabis containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) where they are unable to take advantage of drug checking services; if available, so-called Cannabidiol (CBD) Quick Tests can be used. Since the beginning of 2020, legal CBD cannabis has increasingly been mixed with synthetic cannabinoids and sold as illegal THC cannabis in Switzerland.

You can read the factsheet, available also in French and Italian, as well as many other factsheets Correlation produced, following this link>>>.

 

Updates on the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference

After being postponed from 2020 to this year due to coronavirus pandemic, the Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) are proud to finally re-announce the 5th European Harm Reduction Conference. Together with Czech organisation Sananim, Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, the European Network of People Who Use Drugs, the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and other important stakeholders from Europe they are currently constructing its exciting programme.

The conference will present the latest harm reduction developments and good, innovative practices. It will discuss drug policy and its implications on People Who Use Drugs and other marginalised groups, such as sex workers and People Living with HIV/Aids. It intends to discuss different perspectives on harm reduction, social inclusion and related topics. Finally, the conference provides an appropriate platform to create links and synergies between national and European stakeholders.

The 5th European Harm Reduction Conference targets professionals from the community, professionals working in the broader area of harm reduction, policy-makers and politicians, advocacy representatives, researchers, and media representatives.

With the out role of test and vaccination strategies in Europe, you are invited to a most probable face-to-face meeting in November. Join us and unmute yourself in the safe and pleasant environment we thrive to guarantee with all necessary measures.

In case of unforeseen developments and a worst-case scenario that might urge a re-cancellation, registration fees will be refunded, and sessions will be transferred to an online format.

Key dates:

  • Registration open: May 2021
  • Abstract submission: 1 May – 1 July
  • Abstract confirmation deadline: 15 September
  • Early Bird rate deadline: 30 September

To read more and register follow this link>>>.

 

Voices of frontline workers

European harm reduction services needed to be innovative and adapt very rapidly in response to the fast-changing landscape of the pandemic and its associated national control measures. Preliminary research on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on drug services and PWUD has noted decreases in available harm reduction services.

Frontline harm reduction workers play a crucial role in public health response during COVID-19 and are instrumental in implementing these rapid-scale changes required to keep vital services operational.

Their experiences during the pandemic provide critical data to understanding the effect of the pandemic on the vulnerable population of PWUD and the health services they depend on.

This Correlation European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN) report on the impact of COVID-19 on vital harm reduction services seeks to bring these voices of front-line workers at drug consumption rooms (DCR’s), harm reduction outreach teams and PWUD themselves to highlight their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report includes sections on:

  • General Harm Reduction Response to COVID-19
  • Drug Consumption Rooms
  • Outreach services
  • Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST)
  • Government & municipality response
  • Drug Supply
  • Digital and other Innovations
  • User experiences in the streets
  • Homelessness
  • Social Isolation for PWUD

Our member organisations from Bosnia Herzegovina and Greece contributed to the report with their experience.

The briefing paper is available following this link>>>.