What are the most effective treatment options for cannabis problems? How to respond to new trends in cocaine use? How to help prevent the non-medical use of medicines?

These are among the questions explored in a new collection of miniguides being launched today by the EU drugs agency (EMCDDA). The miniguides — being released in four successive bundles between October 2021 and early 2022 — focus on patterns of use, harms, settings and vulnerable groups. Together, they make up the agency’s latest overview of actions and interventions now available to respond to the consequences of illicit drug use.

Drawing on a fresh global review of the evidence, and insights from 29 countries (27 EU, Turkey and Norway), the miniguides are designed to support practitioners and policymakers in addressing the negative consequences of drug use. The resources are presented in a digital and modular format, designed to improve accessibility, to be easier to read across a range of devices and to facilitate regular updates and translations.

Throughout the guides, ‘Spotlights’ focus on a number of hot topics requiring special attention today. These include COVID-19, drug use and sexual health, and the use of synthetic cannabinoids, fentanils and performance- and image-enhancing drugs. How to identify problems and choose the most appropriate responses is covered in an action framework accompanying the guides.

First up this month are the miniguides on responding to specific patterns of drug use, covering cannabis, medicines, opioids, polydrug use, stimulants and new psychoactive substances (see below). Each miniguide provides an overview of the most important aspects to consider when planning or delivering health and social responses to particular drug-related problems. The miniguides review the availability and effectiveness of responses and consider implications for policy and practice.

EMCDDA Director Alexis Goosdeel says: ‘The EMCDDA is committed to assisting policymakers and practitioners in planning and delivering policies and programmes that contribute to a healthier and more secure Europe. Our latest European responses miniguides, delivered in a digital and modular format, examine some of the key public health challenges in the drugs field today and offer timely and practical advice for designing, targeting and implementing effective responses. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw how drug services were quick to adapt and innovate in a fast-moving crisis and in the face of an ever-more complex drugs phenomenon. We hope that these practical guides will equip them with the tools to respond to the drug problems of today, but also to prepare for those of tomorrow’.

Timeline:

18 October Action framework for developing and implementing health and social responses to drug problems
Bundle 1: Patterns of use
19 October Cannabis: health and social responses
20 October Non-medical use of medicines: health and social responses
21 October Opioids: health and social responses
22 October Polydrug use: health and social responses
25 October Stimulants: health and social responses
26 October New psychoactive substances: health and social responses