Denmark Country Drug Report 2018

Harm reduction

Harm reduction interventions

The harm reduction concept is embedded in all relevant areas of Danish drug policy. The Ministry of Health has overall responsibility for harm reduction initiatives at the national level, while the municipalities play a crucial role in the organisation and funding of harm reduction activities, including medical and social treatment of people who use drugs.

Harm reduction interventions

In Denmark, the harm reduction response includes the provision of needle and syringe distribution schemes, take-home naloxone programmes, drug consumption rooms and heroin-assisted treatment. In addition, prevention of and treatment for drug-related infectious diseases is provided, including counselling, screening and vaccination against the hepatitis A and B viruses. Recently, programmes to facilitate access to general health services for marginalised drug users have also been implemented.

Needle and syringe programmes have been established in Denmark since 1986. Syringe provision is administered through the free dispensing of syringes and syringe sales in pharmacies, through treatment institutions, in drop-in centres and through machines dispensing syringes in public places. Some municipalities also dispense needles and syringes at shelters and hostels. The provision of sterile water and other injecting equipment is common.

Since 2013, a take-home naloxone programme to prevent opioid-induced deaths has been available in a number of municipalities.

Five supervised drug consumption facilities operate in four municipalities. A recent report indicated that over the period 2012-16 drug consumption rooms provided services to more than 9 400 drug users and supervised more than 920 000 drug use episodes, without any fatal outcomes. In 2016 alone, 7 155 individuals used these facilities and were supervised during 303 403 consumption episodes.

Heroin-assisted treatment has been available for hard-to-treat opioid users in five locations across Denmark since 2010.

Availablity of selected harm reduction responses in Europe
Country Needle and syringe programmes Take-home naloxone programmes Drug consumption rooms Heroin-assisted treatment
Austria Yes No No No
Belgium Yes No No No
Bulgaria Yes No No No
Croatia Yes No No No
Cyprus Yes No No No
Czech Republic Yes No No No
Denmark Yes Yes Yes Yes
Estonia Yes Yes No No
Finland Yes No No No
France Yes Yes Yes No
Germany Yes Yes Yes Yes
Greece Yes No No No
Hungary Yes No No No
Ireland Yes Yes No No
Italy Yes Yes No No
Latvia Yes No No No
Lithuania Yes Yes No No
Luxembourg Yes No Yes Yes
Malta Yes No No No
Netherlands Yes No Yes Yes
Norway Yes Yes Yes No
Poland Yes No No No
Portugal Yes No No No
Romania Yes No No No
Slovakia Yes No No No
Slovenia Yes No No No
Spain Yes Yes Yes No
Sweden Yes No No No
Turkey No No No No
United Kingdom Yes Yes No Yes

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Methodological note: Analysis of trends is based only on those countries providing sufficient data to describe changes over the period specified. The reader should also be aware that monitoring patterns and trends in a hidden and stigmatised behaviour like drug use is both practically and methodologically challenging. For this reason, multiple sources of data are used for the purposes of analysis in this report. Caution is therefore required in interpretation, in particular when countries are compared on any single measure. Detailed information on methodology and caveats and comments on the limitations in the information set available can be found in the EMCDDA Statistical Bulletin.