• EN

Please note that the information on this page is based on the EMCDDA Annual report 2011: the state of the drugs problem in Europe. Most statistical data relate to the year 2009 (or the last year available).


Annual report 2011: the state of the drugs problem in Europe
Responding to drug problems — an overview

Published: 15 November 2011

Quality assurance

Most European countries undertake a range of activities geared towards ensuring the quality of drug-related interventions and services. These include, the development of treatment guidelines, benchmarking of services, staff training, and quality certification and accreditation processes.

Quality standards for Europe

The EQUS study, commissioned by the European Commission, aims to build consensus among European experts and stakeholders over existing quality standards in demand reduction interventions. This includes the development of a clearer definition of minimum standards, which has been used to cover both evidence-based recommendations and organisational procedures. The EQUS study addresses this confusion and distinguishes between three types of standards. These are defined as structural standards (e.g. physical environment, accessibility, staff composition and qualification), process standards (e.g. individualised planning, cooperation with other agencies, patient records keeping), and outcome standards (patient and staff satisfaction, setting and measurement of treatment goals). The results of the study should be available by the end of 2011, and will be used by the European Commission to develop an EU consensus to present to the Council by 2013 (1).

Staff training and education

Staff training and continuing education related to drug use are key activities in assuring the quality of services. Results from a recent ad-hoc data collection reveal that specific training programmes in the drug addiction field exist in the 27 countries that reported, and are primarily geared towards the medical and nursing professions, psychologists and social workers. While some countries have developed specialised university courses, others provide post-graduate or continuing education courses. The most structured and developed training and education activities can be found in the medical field. Three countries report having developed a medical speciality in addiction. The Czech Republic introduced the specialism of addiction medicine in 1980 and the non-medical profession of 'addictologist' in 2008; a two-year specialist module in addiction medicine began in the Netherlands in 2007; Germany has post-graduate courses in substance use and addiction counselling as well as a module on heroin-assisted treatment. The evidence for the effectiveness of approaches such as 'continuing medical education' remains limited and inconclusive. A recent, more interactive approach, known as 'continuing professional development' (Horsley et al., 2010), has been proposed, which involves training physicians in a broad range of skills including communication, management, and health advocacy, but it still has to be tested.


(1) See the Best practice portal for further information.

Bibliographic references

Horsley, T., Grimshaw, J. and Campbell, C. (2010), 'Maintaining the competence of Europe's workforce', BMJ 341, p. c4687.

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 >>

Contact us

Praça Europa 1, Cais do Sodré
1249-289 Lisbon
Tel. (351) 211 21 02 00

More contact options >>

Page last updated: Friday, 28 October 2011