Can drug supervision rooms help in the war on drugs?


A national drug crisis is imminent in Hungary, according to Hungarian newspaper Népszava. As with many other European countries including the United Kingdom, in Hungary drug addicts are more often criminalized rather than rehabilitated.

To reduce the instances of crime associated with drug use and to prevent drug deaths, addiction experts are pushing for the introduction of supervised drug consumption rooms, where addicts can use previously tested drugs in a safe environment under the supervision of trained staff.

Others are also pushing for drug-prevention programs to be given in schools (NewsMavens).

High rates of drug use have been recorded in recent months in Hungary, with the Hős utca (Hero Street) neighborhood in Budapest, the capital, reportedly a problem area. New psychoactive substances, or synthetic drugs, have become as popular as established illicit drugs in Hungary, in particular among young adults.

Cannabis is the most commonly used drug in Hungary, but the use of MDMA/ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines increased in 2007-2015, according to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) Country Drug Report. There have been 6,473 drug law offences recorded in 2018 in Hungary so far.

Hungary reports between 20 and 30 drug-induced deaths annually, as it has done for the past five years. The rate of drug-induced deaths among adults aged 15-64 years was 3.93 deaths per million in 2016. The most recent European average is 21.8 deaths per million.

Supervised drug consumption rooms have been operating in parts of Europe for the last three decades, including in Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and France.

Questions to be asked

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  • Why hasn’t the war on drugs worked to reduce addiction rates and drug use?
  • Where are drug consumption rooms in action and are they working to keep users safe?
  • Do drug consumption rooms help prevent drug use?

Interviews

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  • European Harm Reduction Network
  • Zsuzsanna Urbanovkszy, Kontúr Association, a non-profit that provides community building and social care programs in the Hős utca neighborhood

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