Time: 11:00 am
Location: We’re developing activities on the territories of selling and consumption of ilicit drugs with our peers particularly those Who Inject, but not only them. For this reason we do not share the exact location of the encounter
Name of Organisation: CASO – PORTUGAL
Contact: Rui Coimbra
August 31, 2020 – International Awareness Day for Overdose deaths overdose
This international day was established with the main objectives of:
– Claiming a change in international drug policies to reduce the burden of overdose deaths.
– To remember those who lost their lives in this “war on drugs”, which is nothing more than a war against people who use drugs to their families and friends and to all of society.
– Recognize the “chronic” pain of the friends and family of those who lost their lives in this war.
– Recognize the persistence of stigma associated with the use of illicit “drugs” and deaths from overdose, identify what allows stigma to persist and create active strategies and measures to combat and eliminate it, in line with resolution 6/11 of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs (CND) of the United Nations (UN): “Promotion of non-stigmatizing attitudes to guarantee the availability, access and implementation of social, health and care services for people who use drugs”( https://www.unodc.org/documents/commissions/CND/CND_Sessions/CND_61/CND_res2018/CND_Resolution_61_11.pdf)
In 2019, 874 events of all kinds were promoted in 39 countries.
CASO (Associated Consumers Survive Organized) association, like in previous years, joins this International movement, coordinated by the Penington Institute, an Australian non-profit organization that promotes empathetic understanding, compassionate solidarity and the necessary changes, so that people who use drugs, their families and friends can see their humanity recognized and put an end to the stigma and premature and unnecessary deaths.
Thus, with the support of the European Network of People Who Use Drugs (EuroNPUD), with supporters and partners and with the community of People Who Use Drugs, CASO will be involved in actions in Porto and Lisbon.
In Porto, the actions will take place on Sunday 30th and Monday 31st of August in a place where there is a lot of injected consumption and will be as follows:
– Morning meeting for a symbolic cleaning of the space.
– Community lunch.
– Training of trainers in the identification of signs of opiate overdose and protocol of action, including the administration of Naloxone.
– Assembly of caregivers.
– Collection of personal testimonies.
In Lisbon, the actions result from a partnership between the Drug Consumption Mobile Unit Program (a partnership between GAT and Medecins du Monde) and CASO.
CASO supported and facilitated the planning together with a Group of Peer Workers that the Program is developing, and they will be implementing the following actions on the 31st, 1st and 2nd:
On the 31st:
– Territory cleaning
– Community lunch.
– Training of trainers on polydrug use, overdose, opioid overdose and Naloxone administration and action protocol.
– Assembly of caregivers
– Construction of a graffiti.
The training and assembly of caregivers will be repeated on the 1st and 2nd of September in the territories in which the consumption program intervenes.
(The complete list of all IOAD 2020 events happening this year can be seen at the following link: https://www.overdoseday.com/activities-2020/)
In Portugal, although we have a national syringe exchange program since 1993, only last year Naloxone was made available for outreach harm reduction teams. Despite we have a law that foresees a safe consumption spaces since 2001, but only in last year the first one was opened in Lisbon, with other spaces promised, while in Porto the debate has been going on for some years, but spaces for safe consumption you cannot see them.
These are worrying signs of the persistence of stigma and are symptoms of a clear inoperability of the model as it stands. This situation has been signalled by several stakeholders in the sector and recently Dr. João Goulão, coordinator of SICAD also calls for the Ministry of Health to make decisions that allow the evolution and development of a model that has already been, more than it is now, an international reference.
With sars-cov2 affecting the whole world and winter approaching, we fear that the “time” of politicians’ decisions will not arrive in time to prevent unnecessary death and suffering among the community of People Using Drugs, their families and friends.
Thus, we would like with these actions to remember that:
– There should be more spaces for safe consumption that would reduce the stigma, deaths, and suffering of those who consume in circumstances of greater vulnerability.
– The strategy for Naloxone to be at the right time, in the right place must be clearer so that we can prevent deaths from opioid overdose. CASO and the Peers of people who use illicit “drugs”, are available, as they have always been, to contribute to a clearer strategy and to the training of trainers in the identification of signs of opiate overdose and the protocol of action for ending unnecessary death and suffering.
– Considering that we speak of marginalized and excluded groups, classified as “hard and very hard to reach”, but that for us are the people with whom we meet every day and, therefore, “easy or very easy to reach”, we recall the availability of Peers of People who use illicit “Drugs” to facilitate or be the bridge between these people and the responses and services of the State and Civil Society to which they are entitled like any other human being.
replacement therapy should not be a prison
– treatment is not only abstinence
– consumption is not just a disease but a complex human phenomenon
– service beneficiaries are not yet involved in political or clinical decisions as they should
So, despite being a model that at the time was innovative and inspiring, now we need to be able to fully apply it and try to respond to the new challenges we face, namely:
– drug checking services
– specialized services for women and non-conforming gender persons
– responses to new needs arising from different contexts of use
In summary, we think, in line with the Global Commission on Drug Policy, that the next logical step will be the regulation of the drug market with the meaningful involvement of servicer users and people who use drugs.