New Psychoactive substances - policy responses and unintended consequences
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New Psychoactive substances - policy responses and unintended consequences

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Presentation by Péter Sárosi (Civil Society Forum on Drugs) on the occasion of the EESC hearing on New Psychoactive Substances (Brussels, 27 November 2013)

Presentation by Péter Sárosi (Civil Society Forum on Drugs) on the occasion of the EESC hearing on New Psychoactive Substances (Brussels, 27 November 2013)

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New Psychoactive substances - policy responses and unintended consequences New Psychoactive substances - policy responses and unintended consequences Presentation Transcript

  • NEW PSYCHOACTIVE SUBSTANCES – POLICY RESPONSES AND UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES Peter Sarosi Drug Policy Program Director Hungarian Civil Liberties Union
  • Qualitative Study on NPS in 5 countries  Aim: to assess how professionals and affected communities perceive 1) the trends in NPS use and related harms 2) the impact of existing policy responses to the NPS phenomenon 3) the best possible policy responses  We asked our national NGO partners to identify 20 stakeholders with wide professional backgrounds  Public health and social service providers, law enforcement professionals, drug users and club owners  103 phone interviews in 5 countries – wide variety of stakeholders have been interviewed
  • Drug use patterns Recreational/club drug use (mostly situational) Dependent use pattern (daily)  Young, educated, urban males with access to Internet  Young or middle aged men, low class, uneducated, unemployed, marginalized  Experimenters  Experienced heroin/amphetamine users/methadone clients  Major route of use: smoking or snorting  Major route of use: injecting  Risks: psychotic episodes, overdose, aggressive behavior, unprotected sex, HCV  More frequent injecting - needle sharing, rapidly deteriorating health condition, aggressive behavior, paranoia, psychosis  Serbia, Portugal: only this pattern  Romania, Poland, Hungary: this pattern is very prevalent
  • Why the patterns differ so much across countries?  Availability of classical drugs  Criminalization of drug users  Access to treatment (OST)  Social status of drug users (concentrated, marginalized Roma communities)
  • Race: laws are always one step behind drug traffickers
  • Legislative solutions Poland: 2010 – Chief Sanitary Inspectorate closed down more than 1000 shops - amendment of the drug law – introducing the term “substitute drug” Romania: a new law requires shop owners to register all products containing psychoactive substances – if not, the authorities can close them Hungary: 2012 generic list of new psychoactive substances was introduced – ban on groups of substances Portugal: introduced a temporary list with 160 substances, banned all commercial activities with these substances
  • Assessment of policy responses to NPSs  Media-driven policy making – no evidence base  Creation of black market/replacement of the problem  Lack of transparency of the market  Missed opportunity to regulate the market  No monitoring/evaluation of control measures
  • Fear-based mass media campaigns: is this effective?
  • Public health concerns The treatment system is not prepared to tackle NPS related problems – designed to treat opiate addiction NEEDS:  Trainings  Testing of drug samples  Treatment guidelines Injecting NPS use – 10-15 injection per day = growing demand for sterile equipment Coincided with financial austerity – reduced funding for harm reduction programs Result: sharing of needles and infections – consequence: HIV epidemics (Romania, Greece)
  • (not so) balanced approach  Controlling substances is not the solution in itself – the solution is on the demand side  Very few public health and social responses to the legal high phenomenon
  • Policy recommendations  Reallocating resources on education and public health  Research on NPS  Decriminalizing drug use  Regulatory options – the New Zealand model  Rethinking drug policies
  • THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION! WWW.DRUGREPORTER.NET