by secretary general Fay Watson
Earlier this summer, we were very pleased to announce that the Addiction Recovery Foundation, the charity which publishes Addiction Today journal, had become an affiliate of Europe Against Drugs. This is an important collaboration for us, as we wish to help former drug users in the UK get their voice heard in drug policy debates at both the european as well as international level.
Our ever-expanding network currently represents about 50 organisations throughout Europe, many of which are drug-rehabilitation communities or socialisation programmes for former drug users as well as drug-prevention programmes. The inclusion of former drug users is important to Eurad, and they are represented at all levels of the organisation, including the board.
Former users can have a variety of views on legalisation and decriminalisation of drugs, but there are other, perhaps equally or more important, aspects of drugs policies which they can agree on. For example, former drug users are in an ideal position to advocate for high-quality drug treatment and residential services, to advocate for long-term follow-up support to people who use drugs, and to highlight the need for support services for the friends and families of drug users. Former users also play an extremely important role in mentoring drug users, offering a living example that those with drug problems can move on with their lives and overcome drug dependence.
We hope that our collaboration with the Addiction Recovery Foundation will strengthen the voice of former drug users at the european level. We also hope that it will encourage more UK-based recovery organisations to join us. We have established a former drug users network, which we hope more organisations can join, where they can share good practice and learn from models of healthcare and support from across Europe.
HAVE YOUR INTERESTS REPRESENTED IN EUROPE
Eurad is a member of the EU Civil Society Forum on Drugs where it represents its affiliate organisations’ interests, and regularly attends the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Organisations joining Eurad – from between €100-500 per year, depending on your composition – can benefit from regular e-newsletters, opportunities to collaborate in European Union policy processes, attendance at policy events, office space in Brussels and practice-sharing visits to other drug treatment services across Europe. Eurad is funded by its members; it also receives funding from the European Commission. It does not receive funding from any commercial source. For information, go to www.eurad.net.
Eurad – Europe Against Drugs – was launched at a press conference in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 25 October 1988. A constitutional meeting was convened 7-9 April 1989 in Berlin, funded by the European Commission, formally establishing Eurad.
Eurad is a european non-profit drug policy foundation which advocates a prevention- and recovery-oriented drug policy at national and international level. It is registered as a foundation (“stichting”) under dutch law (reg no 41155759). Its governing body is its Council. Individuals and organisations can become affiliated, and Eurad has dozens of affiliated organisations and experts.
Our field of work is primarily to follow the drug-policy agenda of the EU and the UN and join the debate about the future of drug policies (photo above shows Eurad at a UNODC meeting).
Eurad subscribes to a preventionist platform. Our mission is to reduce the burden on individuals, families and society at large by promoting comprehensive, balanced and integrated policies. We seek to reduce demand for and supply of illicit drugs through prevention (including law enforcement) and treatment. We respect the fact that internationally there are historic, cultural and social differences which impact on how we talk about drugs and drug policy. We respect that people come into this policy field with different backgrounds, motifs, experiences and perspectives. Eurad’s vision could be described as a ‘third way’ between the ‘war on drugs’ approach and drug liberalisation. We are not against the user but the use.
Our overarching purpose is not ideological, religious or cultural but rather the welfare, health and dignity of both individual and society.
Eurad supports the UN drug conventions and the universal prohibition of narcotic drugs. The purpose of prohibition is not to penalise but to prevent the use of these harmful substances in society. Law enforcement is a vital component in drug policies but must be part of a broad strategy aimed at prevention and recovery – not a substitute for it. Prevention and long-term follow up towards recovery and rehabilitation need a far greater emphasis on today’s drug policy agenda.
Drug policies are commonly divided in two: demand reduction and supply reduction. But we talk about the continuum rather than dividing drug policy into two. The continuum starts off at the site of production and cultivation, through manufacturing, trafficking and sales to where it meets the consumer. The aim of policy up to this point is one of prevention.
Prohibition is the most effective protective factor, but is far from sufficient. To influence behaviour is the central theme of prevention. The vital component is information, awareness and the management of risk factors and strengthening of protective factors. The synergies of a comprehensive approach are more important than single interventions. Eurad believes that harm reduction has its place in the tool box of a recovery- and prevention-oriented strategy. It cannot and should not replace the preventionist strategy which is the foundation of national and international drug policies.