Portugal Country Drug Report 2019

National drug strategy and coordination

National drug strategy

Portuguese drug policy is detailed in three strategic documents: the National Strategy for the Fight Against Drugs 1999, the National Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies 2013-20 and Portugal’s Action Plan Horizon 2020.

Launched in 1999 and envisaged as a long-term policy document, the National Strategy for the Fight Against Drugs defines the general objectives in the drug field. The strategy is built around eight principles, six objectives and 13 actions. The National Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies 2013-20 builds on the 1999 strategy and takes a broad and integrated view of drug and addiction problems, including illicit substance use, new psychoactive substances, alcohol, prescription medications, anabolic steroids and gambling. It is guided by five overarching objectives and is built around the two pillars of drug demand and drug supply reduction. It also includes two structural measures (the Operational Plan for Integrated Responses and the referral network) and four transversal themes (information and research; training and communication; international relations and cooperation; and quality). The national plan has defined a set of indicators and targets that are to be achieved during its time frame (2013-20). Three management areas — coordination, budget and evaluation — support the plan’s implementation alongside two action plans covering the periods 2013-16 and 2017-20.

Like other European countries, Portugal evaluates its drug policy and strategy using routine indicator monitoring and specific research projects. In 2012, an external final evaluation was undertaken of the country’s National Plan Against Drugs and Drug Addictions 2005-12. An internal evaluation of the action plan for 2009-12 was also completed. Both evaluations contributed to the development of the National Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies 2013-20, which expanded the scope of drug policy at the strategic planning level into the wider area of drugs and addiction strategies. Furthermore, an internal evaluation of the Action Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies 2013-16 was undertaken. It included an analysis of the plan’s goals using a system of indicators, a process evaluation, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and an impact assessment.


National coordination mechanisms

The Portuguese National Coordination Structure for Drugs, Drug Addiction and Alcohol-Related Problems comprises a number of bodies. The interministerial Council for Drugs, Drug Addiction and Alcohol-Related Problems has overall responsibility for the endorsement, coordination and evaluation of drug policy. It is chaired by the prime minister and consists of ministers from all relevant areas (currently 13) and the national drug coordinator. It is supported by the Interministerial Technical Commission, chaired by the national coordinator and composed of representatives designated by the different ministers. Its main function is to design, monitor and evaluate the national plan and support action plans on illicit substances and alcohol. The General-Directorate for Intervention on Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies (SICAD), attached to the Ministry of Health, supports the national strategy’s implementation, through planning and evaluating demand reduction interventions, and provides technical and administrative support to the Commissions for Dissuasion of Drug Addiction. SICAD is the EMCDDA’s national focal point in Portugal; the SICAD General-Director is the National Coordinator for Drugs, Drug Addiction and Alcohol-Related Problems.

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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.