People with substance abuse issues [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for people with substance abuse issues.

Drug use can lead to addiction, which has harmful consequences for health. In 2015, around 3.5 million European adults used cocaine, 1.8 million amphetamines and 1.3 million opioids. The number of Cannabis users reached 23.5 million. Misuse of prescription medicines, such as sedatives, pain relievers and stimulants, is also a growing concern.

Unconscious Man Face Down Behind Scattered Prescription Drugs and Glass of Alcohol.

© Andy Dean / Fotolia

If you have a substance abuse issue, you might be interested to know that the EU has a drugs strategy and action plan. The aim is to reduce the health and social risks and harm caused by drugs, and to ensure that treatment offered to drug users will help them recover and reintegrate into society. The EU has also established a European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) to provide information at European level, and has created a consultative body, the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSF). In 2017, the EU adopted legislation to include new psychoactive substances (‘designer drugs’) in the definition of ‘drug’, and to set up an information exchange and an early warning system on them. Drugs-related health damage is among the priorities of the current EU health programme.

Some of the numerous projects financed by the EU to help people with substance abuse issues include a web survey on drugs; a network to strengthen research into the problem of illicit drugs; a responsive website and app for mobile devices for young consumers of new psychoactive substances, with background information, a self-assessment test and an intervention programme; and an initiative to improve training in addiction medicine for primary care doctors.

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