Organizations call on local councils and ICAD to extend supervised drug use programs until 2026

26 Março 2024

The Group of Activists in Treatment (GAT) and 14 other community organizations have sent an open letter of commitment to the country's main city councils, as well as to ICAD, to respond to the increase in open drug use and to guarantee the right to health and dignity of these populations.

The major reforms of 1996-2001, which culminated in the decriminalization of drug possession and use and the creation of a network of social and health responses, are now internationally recognized as good practice. However, the organizations that signed the letter believe it is necessary to deepen the model and expand supervised consumption programs.

"It wasn't until 2019, 18 years after the law came into force, that we saw the first structure in the country implemented in Lisbon, the mobile supervised consumption program, coordinated by GAT/Médicos do Mundo" reads the letter of commitment addressed to the responsible entities. In 2021 and 2022, new structures will be made available in Lisbon by the Ares do Pinhal Association and in Porto by a consortium led by APDES.

The aim is to find solutions to the complex reality of the growing phenomenon of open-air drug consumption in different cities of the country, as well as to the vulnerability of people who use drugs.

"This phenomenon is not unrelated to the aging of the drug-using population, the housing crisis, mental health problems (...) and social inequalities that translate into poverty and exclusion" the organizations state in the open letter.

"For the sake of justice and territorial equity, these structures can't exist only in Lisbon and Porto", say the organizations, which propose the creation of a working group, as a first step towards the planning and expansion of supervised consumption programs, made up of the Institute of Addictive Behaviors and Dependencies (ICAD), city councils and civil society organizations, as well as drug users. Aware of the challenges of financing these structures, they also propose to study the best financing solutions.

The challenge issued to the ICAD Board and the City Councils of Almada, Amadora, Braga, Coimbra, Espinho, Faro, Gondomar, Lisboa, Maia, Matosinhos, Porto, Setúbal, Viana do Castelo and Vila Nova de Gaia, sets 2026 as the target date for the implementation of the program to expand supervised consumption programs, with the results of the working group to be presented by the end of 2024.

Accompanha - Cooperativa de Solidariedade Social (Peniche), APDES - Agência Piaget para o Desenvolvimento (Vila Nova de Gaia), Arrumo - Organização Cooperativa para Desenvolvimento Social e Comunitário (Porto), Associação Ares do Pinhal, Associação Caso - Consumidores Associados Sobrevivem Organizados (Vila Nova de Gaia), Associação Kosmicare (Lisboa), Associação Médicos do Mundo, Associação Sol do Ave (Guimarães), Centro Comunitário de Esmoriz (Ovar), Centro Social de Paramos (Espinho), Crescer - Associação de Intervenção Comunitária (Lisbon), GAF - Gabinete de Atendimento à Família (Viana do Castelo), GAT - Grupo de Ativistas em Tratamentos (Lisbon), InPulsar - Associação para o Desenvolvimento Comunitário (Leiria) and Florinhas do Vouga (Aveiro).