Dianova celebrates a quarter century of commitment to serving people and communities in vulnerable situations
25 years have passed since the creation of Dianova in 1998. 25 years spent serving people and communities through a network of foundations and associations, now present in 19 countries and four continents. 25 years during which Dianova has been committed to addressing the consequences of addiction through actions that benefit people, their environment and society as a whole.
Many things have changed as a result of twenty-five years of expertise and experience. First of all, the name of the organization has been changed to “Dianova” (meaning: “through renewal”) in order to symbolize the new organizational project, and three work areas have been identified: respect for people and professional commitment; transparency of practices and management; and the development of links with existing networks, at local, national and international levels.
The professional therapeutic community
From its inception, Dianova’s objective has been to provide care that was not only effective but also based on respect for human rights and ethical principles. Consultation with specialists in the field lead to the publication of a therapeutic programme shared by all members of the Dianova network.
During the first few years, this commitment is quite simple: most of the members of the Dianova network provide residential care settings through medium- to long-term stays, based on the therapeutic community (TC) model. From the get-go our aim is to make the most of a model grounded in the use it makes of the community (i.e. the centre’s social organization, including the staff and residents) as the main agent of the change process.
Dianova’s professional TC was born. The model is based on the classic self-help and mutual aid approach of TC, with the Dianova touch: attractive sites that provide safe and quality stays, and qualified, motivated therapeutic teams.
In terms of methodology, the staff commit to ongoing certified training, while the managers of the Dianova network member organizations attend a yearly “Management & Development” seminar organized by Dianova International.
In the centres, the supervised self-help approach works to perfection. Thousands of beneficiaries acquire healthier lifestyles, while at the same time playing an active role in their own recovery process, thanks to the quality of the therapeutic alliance and the development of the notion of optimal proximity between the beneficiaries and the staff.
Diversification of services
Over the years, the situation of drug users changes gradually. At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, many of them are in a situation of great social and health vulnerability, often living in run-down suburban areas where they seek out the cheapest substances. At the same time, the techno scene becomes a breeding ground for poly-drug use (ecstasy, cannabis, alcohol and amphetamine in particular) while these consumption modes slowly spread to most party venues.
Dianova’s members have to adapt their programmes and diversify their activities to meet these new needs, with assistance, counselling and follow-up activities in outpatient, and short- and medium-term residential modalities.
A cross-disciplinary approach to addiction
This diversification leads the Dianova Network to come to grips with the cross-disciplinary dimension of the addiction phenomenon and, consequently, to a paradigm shift. At a time when consumer society tends to increasingly transform itself into an addictive society (multiplicity of addictive substances and behaviours, omnipresence of screens, multiple tech-based solicitations, etc.), Dianova’s modes of action and intervention have to evolve to deal with a phenomenon that is becoming a major public health concern.
The addiction issue has a negative cross-cutting impact on many areas considered essential in terms of health and human development. Firstly, in terms of local development, with the devastating impact of drug trafficking on the economies of regions, and even entire countries. In terms of human rights, with repressive policies in most countries, extra-judicial executions targeting drug users, or the use of the death penalty as a virtually automatic retribution for all types of trafficking in others. In terms of gender equality, with the impact of drug trafficking on women from vulnerable communities, the increase in the imprisonment rate for women, and of course the complex interactions between addiction and gender-based violence.
Dianova believes that responses to the phenomenon of addiction should also be cross-cutting and take into account all the factors involved. This is why, after obtaining special consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) in 2007, Dianova International undertakes to carry out, often in partnership, advocacy initiatives aimed not only at promoting the actions of its members, but also at urging decision-makers to take this transversal dimension into account. As our representatives repeat: addiction is a public health issue and prevention, treatment and harm reduction services should be considered essential.
Finally, it should also be noted that the paradigm shift undertaken by Dianova International leads our organization to start assessing its interventions in terms of their impact on some of the goals and targets set out in the United Nations 2030 Agenda, including those related to health and well-being, education and training, gender equality and the reduction of inequalities.
In 2023 Dianova celebrates 25 years of commitment to others. We’d love to be able to mention all of Dianova’s activities, but that would require an entire report.
Dianova means several hundred advocacy initiatives every year, face-to-face seminars organized for representatives of member organizations and with the participation of renowned experts. Not to mention some 25 international awareness-raising campaigns, such as “React“, “Look at the drug problem with different eyes” and “Don’t let them possess you”, with an overall impact on almost 50 million people!
And, of course, there is the work of the Dianova network as a whole. In 2022, more than 144,000 people benefited directly or indirectly from the programmes and activities of the 22 members of the network on four continents.
Support and specialized interventions for people with substance use disorders and other addictive behaviours (residential, outpatient or day centre) in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway and Slovenia; specialized mental health consultations, and training for addiction professionals in Chile; community development in Nicaragua; treatment of dual pathology (substance use associated with mental disorders) in Uruguay; support for participatory democracy, and health education in Togo; addressing gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo; initiatives to bring addiction stigma to an end in Canada; school-based addiction prevention activities, and environmental protection initiatives in Pakistan; educational programmes for children living in poverty in Bangladesh; and, lastly, raising awareness of human rights violations, and reducing the risks associated with HIV/AIDS in India.
Last but not least, Dianova International has recently been recognized as a “public utility organization” in Switzerland, where its head office is located.
It is the recognition of the organization’s legitimacy organization in an action that goes well beyond the Swiss borders and a sign that it now belongs to the large family of social and humanitarian organizations of public interest operating in and from this country.
And let’s not forget our pride and joy to celebrate 25 years of commitment based on a shared mission: promoting personal self-reliance and social progress.
 Services for people with co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders, adolescents in conflict with the law, women with dependent children and/or in vulnerable situations due to violence, homeless people, people with behavioural addiction, etc.