News from WFAD

National conference in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Recovery from substance dependence – shift in drug policy and practice

Choose Recovery is a project with three WFAD members in the Balkan region; Celebrate Recovery from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Izlazak in Serbia and Preporod in Montenegro. The project will be implemented during three years with overall project objective to strengthen the society’s responses towards people who use drugs and people affected by drug abuse and thereby improve their position in society.

One of the problematic issues identified in the region is the lack of cooperation between different actors dealing with the problem of addiction. The project is therefore gathering all the actors in the field to discuss the possibilities and obstacles for people to recover in the region. On December 11th the project partner in Bosnia and Herzegovina invited all relevant actors in Bosnia and Herzegovina to the conference “Recovery from substance dependence – shift in drug policy and practice”.

The conference was hosted by the Ministry of Security in the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The conference gathered over 80 participants from 44 different governmental and non-governmental organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region.

The participants and the guests were welcomed by Ognjen Zekic from the Ministry of Security Department for Drug Abuse who highlighted the importance of cooperation. A new National Drug Strategy has been drafted in Bosnia and Herzegovina and is now in the process of being approved in the Parliament. The Strategy has been developed together with the civil society and one of the partners has been the project partner Celebrate Recovery.

The chair of Celebrate Recovery, Boro Goic, presented the project “Choose Recovery” addressing problems and the possibilities in the society to enable recovery. Within the project a survey has been done in all three countries on the public opinion on addiction and recovery. The survey shows that too big portion of the public in the three countries doubt that it is possible to recover from addiction and fully integrate into the society. The project aims to continue work on the public opinion and also on the practical tools in the society to enable recovery.

The Croatian office for combating drug abuse was also present at the conference to share the Croatian model of reintegrating into society. The model has been implemented for the last ten years and offers social support for people in recovery to find employment. Over 1000 persons have been taking part in the project and over 500 have completed their education through this program. The Croatian government is very pleased with the results, both in personal development of the individuals involved in the program but also with the resources they save in getting people back as contributing members of the society.

All speakers at the conference stressed that detox and treatment for drug addiction is not the goal, it is rather the beginning and more resources are needed for the social support to enable people to return to society. Hence there is a good foundation for the continuation of the work to be done on the local level in Bosnia and Herzegovina.