EuroNPUD has evolved in order to challenge the widespread misinformation, discrimination and marginalisation of people who use drugs in communities throughout the European Union. As part of a long and proud history of drug user organising in Europe, EuroNPUD aims to provide a platform for networks and groups from across the EU to act collectively on issues of political and social importance
To support and seed the development of self-determining networks of drug users that advocate for the health, citizenship and human rights of people who use drugs.
To advocate and lobby at the international level for the rights of people who use drugs.
To maintain an organisation that is effective, transparent and accountable to its membership.
To promote effective prevention, treatment, care and support for people who use drugs who are living with and affected by HIV, Hepatitis, TB and other relevant health issues.
To advocate for intermediate reforms to drug laws in order to reduce the criminalisation and stigmatisation of people who use drugs while striving in the longer term to an end to prohibition
To promote and advocate for harm reduction as a means of supporting safer drug use and reducing drug related harm among people who use drugs.
To build alliances with like-minded organizations and broader civil society to further the aims of INPUD.
In the Beginning...
In Liverpool, at the annual International Harm Reduction Conference in 2010, the first steps towards forming a European network for people who use drugs, began. But before a network could be formed, it was important to find out everything that could be known about the current state of drug user organising within Europe.
Under the auspices of the European Harm Reduction Network (EuroHRN) and with EU funding, a Mapping Project was undertaken to effectively map the extent and nature of drug user organising across the European region. It employed user activists to research and interview drug user groups across the EU.
It would soon reveal important details on the general strength and capacity of, not just individual groups but of drug user organising in general. It gave a snapshot into the richness and diversity of groups across Europe, and it would give activists the first real glimpse into the need for - and possibility of, creating a European Network.
A year later on 5th Oct, 2011, the information was presented back (click here for the report) at the first European Harm Reduction Network Conference, held in Marseilles. The areas within Europe that had little or no national drug user representation were now highlighted as areas that needed support and development and just what type of support would be further investigated in the 2nd phase of the Mapping Project Report.
It was here that the Marseille chapter of the French drug user network, ASUD, hosted a funded event alongside the conference to discuss what role a European network should play in EU policy and national group development. Now with the support of INPUD, the International Network of People who Use Drugs), the meeting was attended by dozens of drug user activists from groups across Europe (see videos below) who discussed a range of crossover issues along with ideas about how to move forward as a legitimate network.
An important and seminal meeting, the decision to finally launch a European network was taken in Marseille, on 5th Oct in 2011. The important ideas to emerge out of both the Mapping Project and the Marseille meeting, (such as the need to seed the development of networks in Southern and Eastern Europe) would, in time, become part of what formed EuroNPUD's first and second year strategies.
However, after Marseille, in the intervening years between 2011 and 2014, EuroNPUD struggled with no dedicated investment in network development. Without funding to move ahead, EuroNPUD remained a dream that was just out of reach.
In October 2014, and with some financial help, 25-30 activists from 14 different countries finally met on the back of a European Harm Reduction Conference in Amsterdam in order to reinvigorate the plans to start EuroNPUD and work to pinpoint much needed funding sources.
In would be in London the following year and with development funding in place, the first Steering committee for EuroNPUD was formed and a strategy for the year ahead was put forward. Thanks to funding from the Robert Carr Fund and ViiV Healthcare, EuroNPUD was soon able to employ its first coordinator from the community, Mags Maher, whose task was to get the network up on its feet, along with seeding the development of several groups from Southern Europe.
In 2015 / 2016 EuroNPUD was able to take its first steps as a platform to bring together representatives from groups and networks of people who use drugs in the European Union (including Norway).
To see EuroNPUD strategies for the years ahead, click here
To read about the Mapping Project, click here.
For other resources, click here
To find out more about the work of EuroNPUD today, click here
A Proud History
People who use drugs have been central to the development of many of Europe's more innovative and effective harm reduction initiatives. Ever since the 1970's, when drug users in the Netherlands began to personally distribute sterile syringes in an effort to combat Hepatitis B, a virus that had been devastating the injecting community in Amsterdam, drug users became community activists . Such initiatives stand at the forefront of a long tradition of drug user organising in Europe and the world, that continues to this day - and which has been of critical importance throughout the eras of HIV/AIDs, Hepatitis C, and the rising and falling (and rising) trend of drug overdose.
The direct involvement of people who use drugs in the issues that affect their lives has since taken many forms. Forming part of the evolution of the needle and syringe programmes that we see today, harm reduction has evolved both as an ideology and a practice. The involvement of the drug using community has meant such lifesaving improvements such as access to more humane and progressive opiate substitution treatments, the delivering of life saving messages around blood borne viruses; harm reduction extending outwards to stimulant users and drug smokers - are to name but a few of many areas the community of people who use drugs, continue to positively influence society today.
In health care, in drug treatment itself, and on the street, people who use drugs have been evolving their skills as activists, organisers and strategists, consistently pushing for the types of services, policies and information that it is the best interests of our communities. The unique history of drug user organising in Europe is a story of commitment, resourcefulness, courage, love and sadly, loss and reveals just how powerful the collective resolve of this community is when seeking to create, develop and pass on, positive and lasting change.
It is also repeatedly proving that the drug using community DOES want to look after the health (and image) of its' own community, and people who use drugs DO want -and will, take care of their health when given the opportunity, the resources and information.
EuroNPUD is reflection of and a vehicle for, the many committed European activists, groups and networks who are today working together to advocate, raise awareness and collectively campaign, to improve the lives of people who use drugs (and those who know and love them) and positively influence the communities and policies that concern them.