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Harm reduction overview for Austria

Map of Austria

1. National context

The reduction of drug-related harm is a focus of all areas of drug-related service provision in Austria. Most measures are oriented towards low-threshold assistance and to reducing the risk of problematic consequences of drug use. Specific methodological approaches such as peer support are now being employed in the framework of harm reduction. Outreach work is of central importance in this context. Outreach ranges from street work to hospital connection services. Within low-threshold facilities the prevention of infectious diseases is a major component of harm reduction service provision. Relevant activities in this field include the provision of information on safer use/safer sex condom distribution; syringe exchange and vaccination programmes; free testing for HIV and viral hepatitis, access to low-threshold HCV treatment services; and counselling. In terms of the general health of drug users, women’s services also focus on gynaecological healthcare and pregnancy. Syringe exchange programmes have been successfully established in most of the provinces in Austria (seven out of nine), as illustrated by the continuous increase in the number of syringes sold or exchanged, especially in the most recent years. Between 2003 and 2013 the number of syringes distributed through the programmes more than doubled from 1.7 million to 4.8 million (excluding syringes sold in pharmacies). This increase can also be attributed to continuous expansion of the low-threshold network, with new facilities being opened over the years. In 2013 needle and syringe exchange was available via 14 fixed sites at low-threshold services and outpatient drug services, 19 syringe vending machines located in five provinces and five sites serviced by outreach workers. It is estimated that an average of approximately 360 sterile syringes per year have been issued per injecting drug user in the context of syringe exchange. Other injecting equipment (e.g. microfilters) is frequently distributed along with sterile syringes; however, this distribution is not systematically recorded. Safer use and risk reduction in recreational settings are also considered important features of reducing drug-related harm. For example, the organisation Check-it! provides information and drug-checking services to users in these settings.

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2. Responses to prevent and reduce drug-related infectious diseases

Needle and syringe programmes Country  data
Availability of  NSP programmes  Limited
% NSP availability at NUTS3  :
Drug use equipment distributed at specialised drug agencies (standard prevention material)
availability of alcohol pads  No
availability of dry wipes  No
availability of containers  No
availability of water  No
availability of condoms  No
availability of foil  No

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
For an explanation of terms used, see the definitions of terms.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.
Testing, vaccination and treatment of infections Country  data
Availability of Hepatitis C testing in the community  Limited
Availability of universal hepatitis B immunization programme  Yes
Hepatitis B vaccination programme specific for high risk groups  Yes
ARV treatment of HIV infection Extensive

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.
Health promotion responses Country  data
Availability of individual counselling programmes  Extensive
Availability of programmes for practical advice and training on 'safer use/safer injecting'  Limited
Involvement of peer educators in the response to infectious diseases prevention  Yes

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.

Drug Treatment

See the country specific treatment profile.

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3. Responses to prevent and reduce drug-related deaths

Availability of drug-related death responses in the community Country  data
Availability of overdose information materials  Extensive
Availability of individual overdose risk assessment (provided by trained drugs or health workers)  Limited
Availability of overdose response training  Rare

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
Availability expert rating scale:

  • Full – nearly all persons in need would obtain it.
  • Extensive – a majority but not nearly all of them would obtain it.
  • Limited – more than a few but not a majority of them would obtain it.
  • Rare – just a few of them would obtain it.
Availability of drug consumption rooms Country  data
Number of facilities n.av.
Number of cities n.av.
Number of consumptions per year n.av.

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
N.Av. stands for ‘The intervention is not available in the country’.

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4. Responses to prevent and reduce drug-related harms in recreational settings

Provision of specific responses implemented in night clubs and festivals Free, accessible, cold water Immediate First Aid ‘Chill out’ rooms Information material Outreach work Amnesty bins
Night clubs  :  Limited  Rare  Limited  Limited  Does not exist
Festivals  Limited  Full  Limited  Limited  Limited  Does not exist

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2014.
Provision expert rating scale:

  • Full – in nearly all night clubs/festivals.
  • Extensive – a majority of night clubs/festivals provide the intervention (but not nearly all of them).
  • Limited – more than a few night clubs/festivals provide the intervention (but not a majority of them).
  • Rare – just a few night clubs/festivals provide the intervention.

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5. References and links

Related EMCDDA resources

 

About the EMCDDA

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) is the reference point on drugs and drug addiction information in Europe. Inaugurated in Lisbon in 1995, it is one of the EU's decentralised agencies. Read more >>

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Page last updated: Monday, 01 June 2015