Minimum Quality Standards

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Minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction interventions in the EU

On September 2015, the Council of the European Union adopted recommendations with respect to the implementation of minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction with the goal of bridging the gaps between existing practices and raising the overall level of quality in the areas of prevention, risk and harm reduction, treatment, social integration and rehabilitation.  

Although non-binding for national governments, this document represents the political will of EU countries to address demand reduction interventions through an evidence-based perspective. The objective of the Council is to support EU member states in embedding coordinated, best practice and quality approaches in these areas.

It is worth mentioning that the Civil Society Forum on Drugs – a platform which supports policy formulation and implementation through a structured dialogue with the Commission – of which Dianova is a member, has taken part in the preparation of this document through a series of recommendations developed by the CSF working group on quality standards, and later on addressed to the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs

The document sets out a series of basic principles in each one of the areas mentioned above. For example, as regards Treatment, social integration and rehabilitation, it is recommended that:

  •   Appropriate evidence-based treatment be tailored to the characteristics and needs of service users and be respectful of the individual’s dignity, responsibility and preparedness to change;
  •   Access to treatment be available to all in need upon request, and not restricted by personal or social characteristics and circumstances or the lack of financial resources of service users. Treatment is provided in a reasonable time and in the context of continuity of care; 
  •     In treatment and social integration interventions, goals be set on a step-by-step basis and periodically reviewed, and possible relapses be appropriately managed;
  •     Treatment and social integration interventions and services be based on informed consent, be patient-oriented, and support patients’ empowerment;
  •     Treatment be provided by qualified specialists and trained staff who engage in continuing professional development;
  •     Treatment interventions and services be integrated within a continuum of care to include, where appropriate, social support services (education, housing, vocational training, welfare) aimed at the social integration of the person;
  •     Treatment services provide voluntary testing for blood-borne infectious diseases, counselling against risky behaviours and assistance to manage illness;
  •     Treatment services be monitored and activities and outcomes be subject to regular internal and/or external evaluation.

The standards are being disseminated by the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) via its Best practice portal