Not enough is known about the needs of young people who inject drugs or the risks they face, according to the first global report on the issue by Harm Reduction International (HRI). The report starts by asserting that these young people have very specific developmental, social and environmental vulnerabilities, including the risk of HIV and hepatitis C transmission and a lack of awareness of harm reduction and treatment services, as well as their own rights. HRI’s report aims to help improve this situation by increasing attention to the overlooked aspects of responses to HIV and other health harms associated with unsafe injecting, by improving understanding of the extent of the problem internationally, and by identifying gaps and limitations in data collection in order to begin filling them.
In this paper we aim to discuss the current situation regarding drug use in Europe among young people (aged 15-30, with variation in definition across countries) and the availability of services aimed at young drug users or potential users. We will also compare approaches adopted in examined countries to show which has proven to be to be most effective at reducing overall drug prevalence among young people as well as related risky behaviours and harms. Regional differences in drug culture, historical context and developing trends will also be taken into account.
This case study looks at these issues, presenting information drawn from surveillance data, policies and experiences of both local service providers and young people who use drugs themselves. In light of the challenges that young people face, this paper concludes with a series of recommendations for policy reform.
The information presented in this paper is drawn from the experiences of local service providers, young people who use drugs and a review of the available literature. This case study is designed to offer a snapshot of the drug policy and harm reduction landscape in Romania in relation to young people. Based on the findings of this case study, we offer a series of key recommendations for effective policy reform that can improve the health of, and reduce stigma towards, young people who use drugs in Romania.
Drug use and drug-related problems continue to be a major concern for EU citizens, as well as being a significant public health and public safety issue. Around one quarter of the adult population is estimated to have used illicit drugs at some point in their lifetime, with cannabis the most commonly used substance. Drug experimentation often starts in the school years, and it is estimated that one in four 15-16 year-olds have used an illicit drug. Although progress has been made in recent years, drug overdose remains one of the major causes of avoidable mortality in young citizens. This survey builds on the work of previous reports (Special Eurobarometer 172 in 2002, Flash Eurobarometer 158 in 2004, Flash Eurobarometer 233 in 2008, and Flash EB 330 in 2011) in exploring young people’s perceptions of and attitudes towards drugs, including:
Eastern Europe and Central Asia continue to see rapid increases in HIV infections among men, women and children. Despite some notable successes in responding to the epidemic, it is unlikely that the Universal Access targets and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to HIV/AIDS will be achieved. Access to antiretroviral treatment is still among the lowest in the world, and stigma and discrimination that violate the basic rights and dignity of people living with and affected by HIV, including children, are hampering further progress in prevention, care and support. This report brings to life the experiences of children, families and young people living with HIV. It gives voice to their stories of despair, stigma and social exclusion, as well as to their courage and hope. It explores the systemic failures in responding to their needs and outlines some good practices. It also describes the contradictions that children and young people, particularly those who are most at risk of HIV, face on a daily basis: societies insist that they conform to social norms, yet exclude them and brand them as misfits; health and social protection systems do not serve their needs and diminish their chances of living normal lives, but blame them when they fail to cope. The report also features some compelling photographs of the realities of living on the edge. Policy reforms, programmatic shifts and a reallocation of resources to strengthen health and social protection systems are required if the further spread of the epidemic is to be halted. Reforms must aim to expand and grant equitable access to services for all, including those who are currently excluded and missed. Successes in HIV prevention, treatment and care can only be increased and sustained if they are underpinned by social environments that advance human and child rights, gender equality and social justice. Blame and Banishment is a call to address the remaining gaps in the response to HIV in the region. It is a call for protecting the rights and dignity of children and young people who are vulnerable, at risk and living with or affected by HIV. It is also a call to build an environment of equity, trust and care rather than blame and banishment.
While the United States of America (USA) has become infamous for having the largest prison population in the world as a result of its regressive drug policy, the impacts of its drug policy towards young people who use drugs are rarely discussed. This case study offers an overview of some of the main drug policy issues facing young people in the USA, looking at the impacts of the drug policy and harm reduction on young people, drawing data and evidence from official national statistics and experiences of young people who use drugs themselves. This paper then concludes with a series of recommendations for potential reform areas.
This report demonstrates that the policing and prosecutions of drug possession offences in England and Wales is unduly focussed on black and minority communities. This report looks at racial disparity rates at stop and search, arrest, prosecution and sentencing and clearly demonstrates that the drug laws in the UK are a major driver of the disproportionality that exists in our criminal justice system in relation to the black community.