14 October 2020

MIKULÁŠ PEKSA introduces the point of view of the “Pirate” party to addiction as an area that requires long-term attention. Solving addiction behaviour should be built on human rights and evidence-based data, as well as on a needs-based approach. The Pirate Party supports cooperation with experts in the field of addictions who can bring a professional view as well as practical and effective solutions to save human lives and maximise financial resources.

JINDŘICH VOBOŘIL introduces the concept of harm reduction—minimising the negative impacts associated with addictive behaviour not only as a service but also as a policy approach. Many people are unable to stop using addictive substances or address their problem gambling for a number of reasons. Abstinence is an individual choice and should not be regarded as the only option. The goal of the harm reduction approach is to keep people alive, help them to make positive changes in their lives and offer
them alternatives that cause less harm. The scope of a harm reduction approach is not only addictive substances (illicit and licit drugs) but also problem gambling, which very often remains in the background and goes unattended. However, all addictive behaviour has the same roots and principles and should be treated in a complex manner. The key reason for integrating drug (or addiction) policies is the fact that both illicit and licit drugs should be treated together. If many European countries have already integrated their drug policies why should not the European policy follow suit? For this reason, the structure of the Directorate general should be changed and the mandate of the EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addictions) strengthened.
Especially now, in the context of EU policy discussion on such broad and complex topics, such as Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, policy demands a universal approach to unhealthy behaviour. The Cancer Plan, for example, aims to tackle prevention, diagnosis, treatment and post-cancer care. This requires a comprehensive approach that takes into account, not only the purely medical viewpoint, but also the social and psychological aspects of harm reduction. The same remains in the area of dealing with illicit drugs. The European drugs strategy and action plans that are coming to an end should not be replaced by similar documents but should be much united and integrated as many member states already did so. Finally, the issue of gambling need much more attention on the EU level and again the integrated policy focused on minimizing risks and harms should be adopted in an integrative manner.

KASIA KOWALCZYK & DAVID MACKINTOSH will stress the pragmatic, cost effective, creative and evidence-based nature of harm reduction approaches. It is a broad concept that can complement other approaches, for example when tackling addiction, also tackling the abstinence paradigm. Harm reduction also has untapped potential across different areas of public health. It works best through a horizontal approach which requires collaboration and partnerships and also engages those who are beneficiaries of the public health services or other interventions. The Global Public Health Network has been recently established to help share research and experience across the relevant sectors with a particular interest i the role of partnership. BARONESS MEACHER introduces addiction as a deeply unpleasant affliction. It is necessary to offer a range of options to reduce the harms to the individuals, their families and their communities: treatment; evidence based full agonist substitution; the Swiss multi-layered heroin and poly-drug use service; decriminalisation of personal use and controlled drugs as medicines.

Mikuláš Peksa, MEP
Jindřich Vobořil, Head of IRAP and former Czech National Anti-Drug Coordinator
Kasia Kowalczyk and David Mackintosh, Global Public Health Network
Baroness Meacher, Member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom