Regional Forum on Addiction and Recovery in Serbia

Dianova shared its best practices on residential treatment and gender mainstreaming in treatment programmes

Drug Addiction and Recovery

Second Regional Forum on Drug Addiction and Recovery, Belgrade, 8-10 November 2022 – photo: all rights reserved

By Lucía Goberna – The Second Regional Forum on Drug Addiction and Recovery was held in Belgrade from 8 to 10 November 2022. The event brought together government representatives, professionals, representatives of civil society and the academia from the Balkans, including Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia, as well as many international representatives, most of whom coming from Europe, including Dianova’s representative, Lucía Goberna. In total, about 200 people attended the event.

Presentations and speakers

Organized by Celebrate Recovery (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Izlazak (Serbia), and Peporod (Montenegro), the forum was part of a project of WFAD, the World Federation Against Drugs on strengthening civil society responses to help people who use drugs and promote recovery-based practices.

The conference agenda focused on recovery, with local, regional and international good practices and research being presented. Other relevant topics were also discussed, including clinic-based treatment, residential treatment, liberal drug policies, new addictions, the situation of women with problematic drug use, stigma among professionals working directly with users, and the role of families, among others.

The three-day conference presented the implementation challenges the region of the Balkans has to face, it also focused on how to improve coordination between public services, and the development of good practices at the international level.

Cressida, Lucia, Regina

Cressida de Witte (left), and Regina Mattsson (right), representatives of the World Federation against Drugs, and Lucía Goberna from Dianova International – photo: all rights reserved

Promoting residential treatment

During the special session dedicated to residential treatment speakers argued that such treatment modality should be reinforced to better respond to the needs of some people in vulnerable situations who appear unable to benefit from other treatment modalities.  Studies and best practices focused on the effectiveness of treatment in therapeutic communities were also presented, as well as the key factors that influence the completion of treatment programmes.

Dianova, an organization with more than 35 years of experience in residential treatment programmes, presented the milestones and challenges of their implementation, the experience it acquired through its work with national agencies, as well as the lessons it learned over more than three decades.

Gender mainstreaming in treatment services

One of the areas that was also addressed in depth is the reality of women who use drugs.  Women and men differ in their patterns of substance use, their progression towards addiction and its consequences, their needs, as well as in their capacity to access and remain in treatment programmes, to but a few of the structural barriers they encounter. The forum presented data emphasizing these differences, and a number of best practices in treatment programmes for women and dependent children were presented.

Dianova focused on the importance of mainstreaming a gender perspective in treatment services, and elaborated on the different ways to achieve this goal.

Other issues were addressed, including the need to maintain therapeutic spaces dedicated to addressing gender-based violence, the importance of working with a gender perspective both in women-only and coed programmes, and in programmes for men, and the need to gather gender-disaggregated data within treatment programmes with a view to improving their design and implementation. Lastly, we also highlighted the need to address and protect the rights of children who face problematic parental drug use.

On behalf of Dianova, I’d like to thank the event organizers for their invitation and congratulate them for an excellent organization which enabled in-depth discussions on complex issues, as well as for their will to promote best practices in the region. It was a real pleasure to contribute through Dianova’s experience!

Lucía and Boro Goic

Lucía and Boro Goic, one of the event’s organizers and President of Celebrate Recovery – photo: all rights reserved