The news came as a shock: all harm reduction programs were terminated this year in Bulgaria, an EU member state. Why? Yuliya Georgieva, a veteran Bulgarian harm reduction activist from the Centre for Humane Policy and the new co-chair of the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, answered our questions.
European Drug Policy Initiative
The European Drug Policy Initiative (EDPI) is a project of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) in cooperation with professionals and NGOs from six European countries: Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Serbia. We selected these target countries in order to reflect the diversity of national drug policies and geopolitical characteristics found in the European Union and its candidates. Bulgaria and Poland represent new member states with restrictive drug policies, while older member states like Portugal are considered to have a more liberal approach. National drug policies cannot be differentiated using the East/West divide that exists within the EU. For instance, Sweden is famous for its democratic welfare society but has a traditionally restrictive attitude toward mind altering substances. On the other hand, the Czech Republic, having endured decades under a totalitarian regime, now endorses a relatively liberal drug policy.
The aim of the project is to advance drug policy reform in the European Union with providing tools for advocacy in the national and international level:
- public opinion surveys
- videos on national drug policy issues (posted on video sharing sites)
- media work (improving the press coverage of national/international campaigns)
- targeting political parties
- targeting international decision making forums (e.g. UN and EU forums)
We have tremendous amounts of evidence both on the harmful unintended consequences of current drug control policies and on the effectiveness of alternative harm reduction measures. However, the ciritcal voices of professionals and NGOs are not heard by the mainstream society. EDPI aims to implement policy change with oriented campaigns targeting society through the media. It connects scholarship with PR methods, attempts to use modern communication tools to advertise new, innovative answers to drug problems, mobilize drug user communities to come out of the closet. Even though Europe is considered small in a geographical sense compared to the United States, due to cultural and language barriers it is more difficult to raise awareness on the necessity of drug policy reform.
EDPI is supported by the Global Drug Policy Program of the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the Commonsense for Drug Policy Foundation.European Drug Policy Initiative News
The 4th European Harm Reduction Conference took place in Bucharest on 21-23 November, 2018. Please watch the video report we made at the event – and read about some of the messages we could take home.
Read about the work and experiences of the social workers at Odyseus, Drugreporter’s partner, who provide information about safer drug use and sex practice at festivals and in clubs in Slovakia!
A user story, statistics, and legal background of police arrests for possession of small amount in Poland by Adam Stasiak.
In Portugal, Harm Reduction plays a crucial role when the needs of people who use drugs are at play but there are still a lot to advocate for. Article by Ximene Rego from APDES (Portugal).
The Civil Society Forum on Drugs, an expert group of the European Commission, is currently accepting applications from eligible European civil society organisations for a case study project about positive and challenging examples in the field of drug policy.
We often speak about evidence-based drug policies – but presenting decision makers with the evidence rarely works in the way it is supposed to.
The reconvened Civil Society Forum on Drugs discussed how to put drug policy back on the EU’s political agenda at its first meeting in Brussels.
Our new film features the story of Netti, her son Sam, and their experience with services for pregnant women who use drugs in Berlin.
Brave young people had enough of harsh drug laws in Belarus and fight back. They found allies in the mothers of drug convicts, who went on hunger strike to demand an end to the war on their sons. Read our interview with a youth activist, Piotr Markiełaŭ!