The DPNSEE statement on Drug checking

Around the World, 31 March is celebrated as the International Drug Checking Day – an initiative conducted by a diverse group of organizations that all play an active part in the delivery of harm reduction services pertaining to substance use. This year’s goal is to raise public awareness of the availability of drug checking services. Supporting this goal, DPNSEE is publishing this statement in order to stress the importance of implementation of drug checking services as an early intervention in different drug use settings.

At the General Assembly held in December 2017, DPNSEE member organisations listed number of benefits and challenges linked to implementation of drug checking services as an integrative harm reduction intervention. This statement outlines the attitudes of the Network following that drug checking represents an essential aspect of public health policy as recommended by the World Health Organization[1] and has been further developed by both EU agencies and various European nations[2].

Even there is little evidence on the effectiveness of drug checking services on drug use behaviour or health outcomes, a history of drug checking services in other countries may help to guide good practice. Based on the results and the evaluation of the projects implemented in Europe, the drug checking service’s integrative parts ideally but not necessarily include the monitoring of drug markets for new/dangerous drugs, as well as high level potency of a certain substances. They also involve data collection on drug-taking patterns. Designing of a service that appeals to the target group offering them a full range of educational information, the recognition of early signs that might lead to problematic relation to substances, counselling and referral to services that focus on effective methods of treatment within the existing drug care system should enhance the better understanding the key population and offer the answer to an emerging crisis[3].

There is a growing interest for implementation of these services in most South East European countries. Legal barriers can be solved with adjustment of the current laws. That will make space for basic harm reduction program implementation within recreational settings, in places and cases where drug checking cannot be provided. Having drug checking services supported by the Government shows that the national states are taking drug use problem seriously. It also creates a path through which effectiveness of mandatory national Early Warning System, that currently lack connection to key population, can be improved. That way it can support creating clear picture about drug use on the ground, wider than only focusing on data collected through police raids, or hospital records of overdose cases or high intoxicated individuals.

The Drug Policy Network strongly supports developments towards better addressing the problem of new psychoactive substances. We invite all civil society organisations, governments and health institutions to overcome the obstacles for implementation of drug checking programs in order to create multispectral systematic response to an emerging crisis, to potentially diminish the harm and save lives.

Download PDF of the statement HERE>>>

Version in Serbia is available HERE>>>

[1]        http://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/FactFile_NPS.pdf

[2]     http://newip.safernightlife.org/pdfs/news/Factsheet on Drug Checking in Europe.pdf

[3]     ibid

DPNSEE General Assembly

The Drug Policy Network South East Europe held its 2nd regular annual General Assembly in Belgrade, Serbia from 3rd to 5th December 2017. It was the opportunity to meet, analyse the work looking back on the year that almost ended and decide about the future work.

Thanks to the generous support from the Office for combating drugs of the Republic of Serbia, the Assembly was held in the Palace Serbia, the governmental representative building. Representatives of 15 out of 22 member organisations participated, including 2 newly recognised members.

Our distinguished guests at the Assembly were His Excellency Ambassador of Portugal Augusto Saraiva Peixoto and Director of the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of Serbia Milan Pekić.

The Assembly adopted the report about the work in 2017 and financial report presenting the Network’s main activities. The plans for 2018 were also adopted, based on the strategic priorities proposed by the Board and ideas for possible projects and partnership building.

Changes in the Board were introduced to ensure that this governing body is active in implementing the action plan. Vlatko Dekov (HOPS, FYRO Macedonia) is elected new Chairperson and Nebojša Đurasović (Prevent, Serbia) new Vice-Chair. While Denis Dedajić (Margina, Bosnia Herzegovina), Marios Atzemis (Positive Voice, Greece) and Saša Mijović (4 Life, Montenegro) remain members of the Board as Secretary, Treasurer and Member, newly elected Board member Anna Lyubenova (Initiative for Health Foundation,IHF, Bulgaria) will serve as Deputy Secretary, and Erlind Plaku (Aksion Plus, Albania) as Deputy Treasurer.

In order to establish common positions, small group work was organised on key issues for which DPNSEE will issue statements in the future. Cannabis and Drug checking were specific topics for sharing and generating ideas.