EMCDDA director: Drug policies in the perspective of the UNGASS 2016 on drugs
Mr. Götz highlighted the EU's crucial role at the 2016 UNGASS, speaking with a unified voice to bring "more Europe" into world drugs policy.31 Jan 2015
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today and to participate in this interesting debate.
As Director of the EMCDDA for the last 10 years, and as a keen observer of drug policy developments at
European and international level, I am well aware of the important activities developed by the European Parliament ― and of the work promoted by the Global Commission for a new approach to world drug policy.
My contribution to this policy debate is from the perspective of the EMCDDA, an EU agency that is tasked with supporting the decision-making process by providing neutral, non-partisan, reliable information on all aspects of the drugs phenomenon.
Indeed, I firmly believe that a factual analysis of the drugs phenomenon is the point of departure for a fair debate.
Our analysis of the EU drug situation reveals some positive developments — but there are also worrying challenges that will need to be tackled.
Heroin and HIV decline
On the positive side for example, with the more established drugs such as heroin — a veritable killer in the 80s and 90s in many EU countries — we now see fewer new users and less practice in injecting. Moreover, HIV and AIDS — a possible consequence of drug injecting and the blight of a whole generation — are now largely under control. Even if we need to pay more attention to HCV epidemics.
Benefit of treatment
This decline is the result of the strong political support and large investment made in the field of treatment and harm reduction in Europe. I do not want to bother you too much with figures, but listen to these:
There were 70 000 drug users receiving substitution treatment (for opioids) in 1993 and today there are more than 730 000. This represents more than a tenfold increase over 10 years. And we estimate that overall more than 1.3 million people receive treatment in Europe.
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