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Harm reduction overview for Italy

Map of Italy

1. National context

Italy had its first experiences in preventing drug-related diseases in the early 1990s.

These largely involved the need to deal with the emergency that was the spread of HIV among drug addicts. These initial experiences were extremely important, from both epidemiological and epistemological standpoints. In other words, while they proved effective at combating the spread of HIV, they also made a marked contribution to consolidating a pragmatic approach to drug addiction. This was the beginning of the shift towards ‘contacting and taking into care’ those who were not receiving treatment from addiction services because at this point in their lives they were not able or did not wish to stop using drugs. After over twenty years of working to prevent the spread of drug-related diseases and to reduce the risk and the harm caused by drugs in Italy, the range of services and initiatives continues to be heterogeneous and diversified, despite the fact that the anti-drug strategy of the Council of Europe still places particular emphasis on the importance of reducing harm in social and health spheres. While the national policy on drugs in Italy focuses more on the prevention and reduction of chronic drug misuse, rather than harm reduction, the National Action Plan on Drugs 2010–13 identifies the prevention and reduction of infectious disease transmission among drug users as one of its goals. In this context, actions were taken to enhance screening on infectious diseases among injecting drug users and also to integrate informational and educational activities in treatment settings.

Some outreach programmes exist at the local level, operated by both public and private social and health organisations, together with specific projects funded through the National Drugs Fund. Both the outreach programmes and projects financed through the national fund include needle and exchange programmes, information dissemination and counselling.

Programmes targeted at harm reduction are more extensive in the northern and central Italian regions, and tend to be focused on the larger cities. Harm reduction interventions are delivered through fixed sites, mobile units, outreach programmes and needle and syringe dispensing machines.

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

Needle and syringe programmes Country  data
Availability of  NSP programmes  Rare
% 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  n.av.
Availability of programmes for practical advice and training on 'safer use/safer injecting'  n.av.
Involvement of peer educators in the response to infectious diseases prevention  :

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)  Extensive
Availability of overdose response training  Limited

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 2011.
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  Full  Full  Limited  Full  :  Extensive
Festivals  Full  Full  Limited  Full  :  :

Sources:

Structured questionnaire 'Prevention and reduction of health-related harm associated with drug use' (SQ23/29), submitted in 2011.
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

 

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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: Tuesday, 02 June 2015