Adjusting Drug Treatment Programs for better Efficiency


A side event organized by Dianova International and other partner organisations in the course of the 58th session of the CND in Vienna

In the course of the 58th session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND58) held March 9-17, 2015 in Vienna (Austria), a side event was organized by Dianova International and two partner organizations, Proyecto Hombre (Spain) and Kethea (Greece), the theme of which was “Adapting Treatment Modalities for More Efficiency”.
It was the fourth side event organized by Dianova International and Dianova Spain at a CND session. Last year’s event was also conducted with our Spanish colleagues while the 2013 event had been held with Dianova Italy and the previous one with Dianova Portugal.

Gisela Rodriguez-HansenAll speakers have highlighted how the original Therapeutic Community (TC) treatment model has been modified progressively in response to the changing needs of the populations we serve, including as regards their age, the substances they use,  and where they come from. However, the objectives of treatment remain unchanged – helping people improve their quality of life. More than ever, this objective is the beacon guiding the whole process of change.

Gilberto Gerra
After a cordial keynote address from Dianova Internationa’s representative, the floor was given to Dr. Gilberto Gerra PhD., in his role as session’s facilitator. Dr. Gerra specializes in the field of addiction-related neuroendocrinology, he is also Chief of Drug Prevention and Health Branch, Division for Operations (UNODC – Vienna). He began the session by stressing the utmost importance of relying on relational therapy – i.e. the treatment model utilized in most TCs, vs. medical-psychiatric modalities.
Later on, partner organizations’ representatives shared a special aspect of their activities with great expertise:

Gisela Rodriguez-Hansen, from Dianova Spain, stressed the importance of dealing adequately with patients presenting a psychiatric comorbidity. The latter term which describes two or more illnesses occurring in the same person – in this case, addiction and other mental disorders. In addition Ms. Rodriguez-Hansen presented converging data from Dianova Italy and Dianova Spain (up to 2015), showing a steady increase in this type of demand.

As regards treatment adjustments, she emphasized two different ways of organizing them, whether in centers exclusively dedicated for these patients as in Dianova Uruguay or within integrated centers (an approach chosen in Dianova Spain and Italy) where both types of patients are treated within the same facility.

Oriol Esculies from Projecte Home Catalunya (Spain), focused on implementing the necessary changes to meet the needs of a population aged 13-21 and their families. Mr. Esculies shared a number of experiences and ideas on working with adolescents which could serve in fields other than addiction-related.

Phaedon Kaloterakis from Kethea (Greece) explained the peculiarities of working with prison inmates, where it is especially tricky to achieve the climate of openness required for implementing a trust-based relationship between patients and drug counsellors. In addition, Mr. Kalotherakis stressed the importance of organizing a monitoring and support system in order to help ex-convicts live productive, drug-free lives after their release, which is especially difficult to achieve in the country’s current situation.

Gisela, Pheadon and Oriol
We would like to emphasize the quality of the discussions that have enlivened our presentations, including the interventions of Dr. Naidoo, President of the INCB, Mr. Pedro Balinya of the Embassy of Spain, Ms. Sofia Aragon, representative of the National Drug Plan of Spain, Mr. Igor Koutsenok from UNODC. In addition, we’d like to thank all those present, including NGO representatives and other people.
Last but not least, we would like to remind the words of Mr. Naidoo who said that this event had demonstrated a high level of expertise and experience from partner organizations.  He also recalled the support of INCB to these programs and proposals and stressed the importance of implementing programs that fit the needs of different populations.
Before concluding the event, Dr. Gilberto Gerra praised the quality of the proposals and voiced his support for specific interventions tailored to to the diversity of vulnerable populations.