Harm reduction is one of the four pillars of the National Strategy on Drug and Addiction Policy. The activities for this strategy are, for the most part, financed by public funds and their primary aim is to reduce mortality and morbidity among drug users. In 2016, a national strategy to reduce human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus infections and sexually transmitted diseases was adopted, which outlines policies until 2030 and defines people who inject drugs as a target population. Germany is among the few European countries that provide the full range of harm reduction services, along with needle and syringe programmes, take-home naloxone programmes for overdose prevention, supervised drug consumption rooms and heroin-assisted treatment. However, the availability of services differs greatly among the Länder, between cities and in rural areas.
Clean needles and syringes and other drug use paraphernalia are provided through a network of low-threshold services and counselling facilities and vending machines. Data on the number of syringes distributed are not available for the country as a whole, but data from local syringe monitoring are available in the Land North Rhine-Westphalia and some larger cities, including Frankfurt and Berlin.
The outpatient treatment centres serve as additional contact points for drug users, providing crisis interventions and offering psychosocial and medical help; many of them also offer outreach services.
Drug consumption rooms have been opened in 6 out of the 16 Länder and, currently, there are 22 drug consumption rooms at fixed locations in Germany and two drug consumption vehicles, which both operate in Berlin.
In recent years, the number of take-home naloxone programmes has increased, but activities remained local in scope. Specific offers for older drug users have been stepped up and now also include for the first time long-term accommodation for this group. Based on an ongoing government-funded project, prevention and harm reduction interventions targeting migrants are being developed.
|Country||Needle and syringe programmes||Take-home naloxone programmes||Drug consumption rooms||Heroin-assisted treatment|