When we witness someone else really 'get it' when it comes to the work we are doing and how important and useful our community can be in that process, it is a great moment to see. In this context, on the frontline of drugs, drug use and drug users, people can and do have 'lightbulb' moments, epiphany's and revelations. Much of it occurs due to people having the opportunity to share a bit of their lives with each other, communicating openly about what they do and why they do it -and then witnessing why it works so effectively. I believe a doctor in the UK recently had one such moment, quite a revelation of sorts -but I will let him tell you about it himself.
The week starts at the CND. With more drug user activists attending than ever bedore, it will be a really meaningful wheel on so many levels. The week brings home just what it Is that governments across the world want to brag about, what they wish to implement across their nation, or publicise calls of urgency to the global cOmmunity and finding new ways to avoid or engage with civil society! Happily, there is more engagement than ever before with civil society, including our community!
Thanks for this report by Drug Reporter -to read more, click their website/page, here on 10th March, 2018. To find out more about the report and why it is important, follow Drug Reporter's reporting on the issue. It is relevant to European people who use drugs "this is a very important document which can be used as an advocacy tool for civil society in the EU and beyond. It is also useful for promoting research on the effectiveness of ACS" says Drug Reporter.
There are many concerns the PWUD community have over so called 'alternatives to coercive sanctions' , particularly when what is offered as 'rehab' in EU countries like Greece and Italy for example, are questionable and concerning as well as 'alternatives' to prison such as 'fines' for people in other countries are totally unrealistic and often do as much harm, further down the road (ie unpaid fines often means prison anyway). Alternatives to coercive sanctions will be raised again at the CND this year.
Drug Reporter reports on the issue below - (to read more, click their link to the rest of the article).
The Council encourages member states to divert drug using offenders from the criminal justice system and refer them to educational and/or treatment programs.
Action 22 in the EU Action Plan on Drugs (2017-20) requires member states “to provide and apply, where appropriate and in accordance with their legal frameworks, alternatives to coercive sanctions for drug using offenders.” As part of the implementation of this action, the European Council adopted its Conclusions on the alternatives to coercive sanctions (ACS) on 8 March 2018. The Conclusions were previously discussed and approved by the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs, the monthly meeting of representatives of member states (usually chief government officials of national drug administrations) on March 1st in Brussels.
The Conclusions recommend member states make ACS (Alternatives to Coercive Standards) available, to implement them effectively, and to monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. They describe five forms of ACS: 1) Education, 2) (Suspension of sentence with) treatment, 3) Suspension of investigation or prosecution, 4) Rehabilitation and recovery, and 5) Aftercare and social reintegration. These measures can be applied in different stages of the criminal procedure, including pre-trial referral of the offender to treatment. The Council invites member states to examine available data on ACS and share it with other member states and EU institutions – so that they can be promoted to countries outside of the EU.
The Conclusions reflect on the findings of a report on ACS produced by RAND Europe for the EU Commission in 2016. According to the report, “if member states wanted to increase the use of ACS, one route could be improving the knowledge of police, prosecutors and judges about what ACS are available, the evidence on the effectiveness of treatment, and improving feedback and information exchange between those imposing the sentence and those supervising the sentences.” So the Council invites member states to train law enforcement officials about effective ACS and to share good practices.
The text of the Conclusions is somewhat weaker than the provisions of the Action Plan. For example the AP talks about “increasing availability and implementation” while the Conclusions ask member states only to “promote the availability”. Still, this is a very important document which can be used as an advocacy tool for civil society in the EU and beyond. It is also useful for promoting research on the effectiveness of ACS. The evidence base is currently “promising, but equivocal” according to the RAND report.
Released in June 2017 -but such an important film for the activist community of people who use drugs and our peers around the world, we thought we should share again on the week of the CND 2018, in Vienna.
A truly incredible film by Drug Reporter and INPUD -which looks at the lives of people who use drugs in a way without sentiment but lots of power, emotion as well as being a really beautiful look into the global community of activists - people who use drugs. We are proud of knowing the incredible people who are in this film, who do this work -and who created such an uplifting and insightful look into our daily lives, all around the world. Don't miss it. Follow the link below.
Subtitles in Hun, Ind, Rus, Spa, Bul, Cz, Fra, Ro, Est.
"The film gives us an astonishingly intimate look at the lives,
tribulations and inspiring resilience of drug using human beings."
Gabor Maté M.D
"The film takes us through one day in the life of eight people, from seven cities, in seven different countries of the world, from morning until night. They all have something in common - all of them use drugs. But these people are not defined by their drug use. All of them have their unique personalities, stories, and social networks. And the environment in which they live, the attitudes they face, the laws that regulate drug use, and the health services available to them have an enormous impact on their lives. This film is not only about drug users - it was also produced by drug users. It strives to challenge our common myths and preconceptions about drugs and the people who use them. It gives a voice to those representing one of the most marginalised communities of our world, to tell stories untold about hate, love, suffering, and happiness. It shows how they engage in social activism to break the silence and fight the stigma that shadows their days." (Drug Reporter)
What makes a drug user activist? Janko, EuroNPUD's campaign coordinator, shines a little light into the background of someone who has been involved in grassroots organising for around 20 years.
As of mid-January, more than 50 000 people had already participated in the European Web Survey on Drugs, a pilot project designed to improve understanding of patterns of drug use at European level. The survey, run with a number of Reitox national focal points, collects information from different groups of drug users, on topics currently not covered by routine data collection. The project, which started with a first wave of six countries in 2016, entered its second phase in late 2017 with an additional nine countries running the survey.
What About and Who (WAAW) made this film about the organisations that really influenced other activists in the drug user movement.. Set in Spain (english substitles) the video talks historically and passionately about a number of integral organisations such as Metamorfosis, Platforma Drogologica,
EuroNPUD is beginning a twinning project, pairing together more established drug user groups with new or developing ones. Stay tuned for further updates about the projects and the work involved.
“People are afraid of the Police. If you go to protests... you are marked and whenever they see you, they might stop you, control you." This is just one of the obstacles restraining drug user activism in Macedonia. An article by Vlatko Dekov on the problems with drug user organising in Macedonia, first printed in Drogriporter, in January 2017. Thanks to Vlatko and Drogriporter for credited reprinting here. For the article and many other excellent pieces on drug user organising and related issues, don't miss their website. Drogriporter is a leading source of drug news and views from the drug using / activist / health professional communities, they write and record all over the globe and are a 'must subscribe' website for anyone in the drugs field.