Austria Country Drug Report 2019

National drug strategy and coordination

National drug strategy

In Austria, the Addiction Prevention Strategy was adopted in 2016 and, alongside the Narcotic Substances Act, sets out the goals, principles and framework for Austria’s drug policy. It views addiction as a disease, supports the principle of treatment over that of punishment and aims for a society as free from addiction as possible. The strategy addresses illicit drugs and licit substances alongside non-substance-related addictive behaviour. It provides a guiding framework at the federal level for work on drug use issues and complements the drug strategies of the nine provinces. It has three fields of intervention: (i) prevention of addiction; (ii) help with addiction (harm reduction, treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration); and (iii) security. The strategy does not include a specific action plan.

While no systematic evaluation of the current drug strategy document is planned, Austria, like other European countries, evaluates its drug policy and strategy using routine indicator monitoring and specific research projects. Addiction research, evaluation and quality assurance are identified as key support processes in the Austrian Addiction Prevention Strategy for the ongoing development of interventions and policy.


National coordination mechanisms

At the federal level, the central actors in the field of drug policy are the Federal Drug Coordination Office, the Federal Drug Forum and the Committee on Quality and Safety in Substitution Treatment. The main responsibility for coordinating the federal drug policy, that is cooperation at the federal level and with the provinces, rests with the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection, which also chairs the Federal Drug Coordination Office as well as the Federal Drug Forum. The Federal Drug Forum comprises representatives of other relevant federal ministries and the provincial drug or addiction coordination offices, as well as the Local Governments Federation, the Reitox Focal Point and the coordinating body of the addiction prevention units. Other experts and academics can be invited to attend meetings. The provinces work together through the Provincial Conference of Drug Coordinators, and each has an Addiction Prevention Unit.

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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.