ECAD is a long standing member of the European Commission expert and advisory group Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD). The CSFD is a 45 member large advisory body on drugs to the European Commission consisting of members with various viewpoints and experiences with which to combat drugs and addiction.

Within the CSFD - ECAD, in line with our misson, always seeks to bring attention to all aspects of the drugs issue. Rangning from emphasizing prevention of initation of drug use to the full recovery from addiction including aftercare and meaningful re-integration into society of former offenders ECAD strives to promote an ambitious drug policy. Settling for less harmful sustention of drugs use is, in our opinion, not good enough.

During the fall of 2020 a number of papers and processes have been undertaken by the forum in which we have contributed to feeding into the processes of formulating a new EU drugs strategy 2021-2025, recommendations to classification of cannabis under the International Drug Classification system, and a position paper on vulnerable groups and drug demand reduction in the light of COVID.

ECAD has contributed and fed into the process but we are not always in agreement with the general conclusions or point of departure taken by the forum. 

During a digital seminar on October 22th drug policy in Europe was discussed by ECAD and several other European organisation such as IOGT-NTO, KSAN, WFAD and ACTIS




As Covid 19 struck ECAD has shifted its activities online. During 2020 a number of lectures on drug prevention and parenting have been given.

- In the Swedish county of Halland the counties of Varberg, Halmstad and Kungsbacka were visted pre-covid in a lecture series during the spring. The lectures were filmed and used for prevention purposes by the county administration.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

- In Örnsköldsvik online lectures were given in May directed at parents on what they can do to prevent drug use among their adolescence.

- In June, ECAD in cooperation with NBV (sobriety movement in Sweden), produced a set of three brief movies on parenting that can be used by parents, social workers and educational facilities to facilitate prevention of drugs use in adolescence.


In October ECAD spoke at 2020 OSCE-wide Conference on Combating the Threat of Illicit Drugs and the Diversion of Chemical Precursors: Strengthening Effective Prevention of Drug Use among Youth through Community Policing.

ECAD presented lessons learned from its 26 year long existance as a network of cities cooperating on drug demand reduction.

What follows is a brief summary of the presentation:

Drug use and drug addiction are multifactorial and complex phenomenon that touches upon biological as well as psychosocial aspects of human life.

The high level of complexity should not discourage us from acting to prevent large scale onset of drug use, especially during the formative period of adolescence when the brain matures, and teenagers produce habits and life patterns for their adult life.

Contrary to common perception, many prevention experts argue that attitudes follow behavior, not the other way around. Trying to make young, thrill seeking adolescents listen to a message of non-drug use will therefore likely be tricky.  

Despite the challenges there are many things societies can do to foster an infrastructure of prevention that aims to change the behaviors of cohorts of young people and subsequently also their attitudes.

European Cities Action Network of Drug Free Societies shares lessons learned, best practices and concrete examples in working to minimize the drug problem derived from its 26 year long existence engaging with local communities and cities across Europe.

To achieve population wide, large-scale reductions in drug demand one needs to foster a network around adolescences in which local and national actors each play their role.

Countries should tap into existing literature and resources on successful drug prevention rather than “just do something”. UNODC international standards on drug use prevention are an excellent start. As is the evidence primary prevention model which originated in Iceland.

Parenting skills, community policing, and recovery-oriented treatment systems should form building blocks of primary prevention strategies to bring down demand for drugs.

The presentation can be found here:

Better Knowledge for better care.

On the 26th of June which is the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Trafficking (World Drug Day). ECAD together with its partners African Youths Initiative on Crime Prevention and the World Federation Against Drugs held a digital event to discuss tangible steps forward in prevention drugs use in the light of the ongoing COVID epidemic from an African/European perspective.

ECAD gave an overview on the European perspective on drug markets in the ongoing covid pandemic and what steps actors on drug markets takes to accomodate to the new situation. Though most supply routes have remained upon due to shipping still happening as normal local retail drug markets seem to have been offset somewhat in the light of tight restrictions. Active users have been faced with the double burden from not being accomodated by a stressed health care system and also subject to lockdowns. This highlights the need further emmphasize the development of proper infrastructure for prevention of drugs use and to facilitate the full recovery from drugs for active users. 

Read more: Seminar in Commeration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking


ECAD is happy to welcome to capital of Croatia into our European family of cities dedicated to drug demand reduction.

Read more: Zagreb joins ECAD

By signing the Resolution on the accession of the City of Zagreb to the European Network of Drug Free Cities, the City of Zagreb today became a part of that European Network at the Dverce Palace. The City of Zagreb has pledged to reject all requests for drug legalization, systematically promote drug prevention programs, work on the treatment and counseling of drug addicts, and work to combat any drug abuse. The resolution was signed by Mayor Milan Bandic in the presence of Vigg Lutcherath, President of the European Network of Drug Free Cities.

I am pleased that today the City of Zagreb is joining the club of 265 cities in Europe without drugs. This is an honor and an obligation that, with this signature, on behalf of the citizens of Zagreb, we will do everything we can to network as many Croatian cities as possible with the intention of making Zagreb and Croatia drug-free, said Mayor Bandic.

Viggo Lutcherath, ECAD President, expressed his pleasure that from now on Zagreb will be able to participate in conferences that they organize at least once a year, all with the aim of preventing and rehabilitating and treating drug addicts, and emphasized that drugs are a huge problem not only for addicts but also to their families and their surroundings. ECAD's international experience and practices will certainly help the City of Zagreb systematically address drug abuse and create even more successful educational projects that highlight the importance of prevention as the best tool in the fight against drugs.

European Network of Drug Free Cities - ECAD was founded in 1994 at the initiative of the City of Stockholm and is Europe's leading network of drug organizations promoting drug-free Europe and representing millions of European citizens. ECAD brings together cities from 30 European countries and supports the existing United Nations drug conventions that oppose legalization and encourage stronger national and international cooperation in the fight against drugs.

Drugs are an ever-growing, multiple threat to our societies. This is why coordination at national, European and international level is needed in order to solve the problem as effectively as possible. New legal frameworks for new psychoactive substances and enhanced cooperation with international partners bring visible results, and thus the City of Zagreb's membership of ECAD will further combat this growing problem. Approximately 96 million adults in Europe have tried some type of illegal drug over their lifetimes, with an estimated 1.2 million people starting addiction treatment annually, which further drives us to systematically address this problem and invest in prevention programs, said Ivan Celić. President of the Commission of the City of Zagreb for the Prevention and Suppression of Drug Abuse and Other Forms of Addiction

Read more: Zagreb joins ECAD
Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandic and ECAD Chairman Viggo Lutcherath

Read more: Zagreb joins ECAD
The city has signed the ECAD declaration

Read more: Zagreb joins ECAD
Viggo Lutcherath Chariman of ECAD, Diana Madunic Swedens Ambassador to Croatia, M.D Ivana Portolan Pajic, Ivan Celic
Member of Croatian Parliament, Erik Leijonmarck Secretary General of ECAD


ECAD's activities from year to year culminate in the annual ECAD Mayors Conference, hosted by a distinct ECAD member city every summer. Councillors and other politicians and policymakers convene with academics and civil society organizations to participate in seminars and study visits, discussing the latest developments in drug prevention efforts throughout Europe.

28th Mayor's Conference - Invitation - May 11th and 12th, 2023 - Malta
On May 11th and 12th, the 28th ECADs Mayor's Conference will take place at Dolmen Hotel in Qwara, Malta. We warmly invite you to join us and expand your knowledge on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and recovery. The conference will highlight best practices and research in the field. It will offer the opportunity to network with other ECAD members, representatives from local authorities, and non-governmental organisations. Registration is free for the first person attending from your organisation!

Additionally, the conference allows for a unique experience as it includes a full day of field visits on May 12th. All participants are invited to Komunita’ Santa Marija, which will be sharing information on their services, and their experiences, and will engage in discussions.

The Agenda has now been published! The deadline to register is April 22nd

Day 1

11/05/2023 | 09:00 – 17:30 | The Oracle Conference Centre - Dolmen Hotel Qawra, St. Paul's Bay
08:30hrs – 09:00hrs| Registrations
09:00hrs – 09:05hrs| Welcome Address by the President of Local Councils’ Association - Mr Mario Fava
09:05hrs – 09:15hrs| Welcome Address by ECADs Chairman of the Board from Kristiansand, Norway - Mr Viggo Lütcherath
09:15hrs – 09:20hrs| Welcome Address by the Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government - Hon. Alison Zerafa Civelli
09:20hrs – 09:40hrs| Inspirational speech – “Push yourself to do it because no one else is going to do it for you” by the President Northern Regional Council & LCA Executive Member - Mr. Clifford Galea Vella Maslennikov
09:40hrs – 10:30hrs| Panel Discussion and Presentation – Discussing the Local Context

The prevention team within Sedqa would like to present the following studies.

Study 1: The Role of a Workplace Policy in Addressing Employees’ Substance Misuse Difficulties.
Aim: To explore the probability of an employee seeking support for a substance misuse difficulty elicited by the workplace ethic fostered by management. Through this paper, we seek to determine a possible correlation between the implementation of a substance misuse policy at the workplace, and employees’ probability to seek guidance and support from their employers for a substance misuse-related difficulty.
Study 2: A Substance Misuse Policy in the Workplace: Senior Leadership Teams’ Attitudes
Aim: To explore how senior leadership teams’ (SLTs) attitudes inform the drafting of a substance misuse policy and how those attitudes inform job retention procedures in the case of an employee disclosing a substance misuse difficulty. Uncovering SLTs’ attitudes toward addiction is essential to understand how these beliefs inform workplace policy aims and actions on substance misuse.

Keynote speakers representing Sedqa Prevention team:

Mr Jareth Grima – Social Worker
Ms Sheryl Spiteri – Prevention Team
Ms Stephanie Mizzi Cascun – Prevention Professional.

10:30hrs – 11:00hrs| Coffee Break

11:00hrs – 11:45hrs| Mr Jon Sigfússon Planet Youth – Evidence-based drug prevention.
Mr Sigfússon is the international programme director for the evidence-based Planet Youth Guidance primary community-based health promotion intervention. Over the course of 20 years, Mr Sigfússon directed the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA).

11:45hrs – 12:30hrs| Mr Matej Košir - Strategies and tactics to prevent cannabis legalisation in Slovenia - The power of prevention science and advocacy.

Mr Matej Košir has been working in prevention and advocacy in the field of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs for around 25 years. Since 2006, he has been involved in more than 30 European projects in the fields of health, justice, education, youth and research as a project or work package leader.

12:00hrs – 14:00hrs| Seated Buffet Lunch

14:00hrs – 14:45hrs| Profs. Christian Thurstone, MD - The impact of legalisation in Colorado, USA – challenges faced by [local] authorities and communities.
Profs. Thurstone is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado and a child psychiatrist who specialises in addiction treatment. He published some of the first papers on the potential effects of marijuana legalisation on youth and has devoted his professional life to preventing and treating adolescent substance misuse.

14:45hrs - 15:30hrs| Ms Mulka Nisic - Recovery Cities - Creating sustainable connections and networks in cities.
Ms Mulka Nisic has been involved as a Regional Project Manager and International Relations Officer at the NGO Celebrate Recovery, and Secretary General of the Recovered Users Network-RUN.

15:30hrs - 16:00hrs| Conclusive Remarks
16:00hrs – 17:30hrs| ECAD Plenary for ECAD Members only
19:30hrs – 23:00hrs| Welcome Dinner at The Pavilion Suite, Westin Dragonara St Julian’s - Separate Registration is required in the application form.

Day 2
12/05/2023 | 09:15 – 19:00
09:15hrs – 09:30hrs| Transport leaves from Dolmen Hotel & Salini Resort to Komunita Santa Marija
09:30hrs – 09:45hrs| Registration and Welcome Coffee
09:45hrs – 10:15hrs| Introduction to the services offered by Komunita’ Santa Marija.
10:15hrs – 11:00hrs| Sharing of good practices and discussion
11:00hrs – 11:30hrs| Tour around Komunita’ Sanata Marija premises
11:30hrs – 12:00hrs| Transport to Ħagar Qim in Qrendi
12:00hrs – 13:15hrs| Ħagar Qim Visit
13:15hrs – 13:30hrs| Transport to Xgħajra
13:30hrs – 16:00hrs| Lunch (you will have time for a short stroll by the seaside)
16:00hrs – 18:00hrs| Cultural Visit in Mdina – Visiting the National Museum of National History
18:00hrs – 19:30hrs| Visiting Dingli Cliffs
19:30hrs - 15:30hrs| Transport to Salini Resort and Dolmen Hotel

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27th Mayors Conference - Gothenburg and online 2022

The 27th Mayors' Conference and 8th World Forum took place in Gothenburg and online 13-14th June 2022.

The World Forum and Mayor’s Conference is a meeting place for people from all continents who are working to prevent drug abuse, ensure evidence-based and gender-sensitive practices, increase access to treatment, and to promote recovery and reintegration services. This global forum is one of its kind where NGOs, self-help groups, treatment centres, scholars, local, regional, and national authorities, politicians and other decision-makers, and others from around the world will meet to share evidence and best practice experiences. This year’s World Forum will include three main tracks: Prevention, Treatment/Recovery, and Advocacy, which will stretch over 1,5 days followed by the WFAD Congress and ECAD Mayors plenary session. 

We are proud to announce that the Forum was inaugurated by UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly and will be joined by experts from around the world.

Read more on the website: and access the full report here
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26th Mayors Conference - Cork 2019



and 6th World Forum Against Drugs

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Conference materials

Kevin Sabet, PhD, Director, Drug Policy Institute, University of Florida, President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), USA
Speech at the WFAD /ECAD 25th Mayors Conference, Gothenburg, May 15, 2018 (Video 5min.)

Supply reduction in Peril?  A lot of the worlds`s drug supply emanates from a war-torn Columbia.
Dr. Michael Jonsson, FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Text to the slides (PDF)
In Columbia, a peace deal has been struck, which gives hope for a closure of insurgency and violence. (PDF)

Thomas Pietschmann, Dr, Drug Research Section, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs
The International drug control system, global/regional and national drug patterns and trends, and supply reduction efforts at the international level (PDF)


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Photo: Götaplatsen @ Klas Eriksson

Annual Mayors` Conference and the 6th World Forum Against Drugs will take off on May 14-15 in Gothenburg this year.
This joint event will address a growing interest to the effective prevention practices, full recovery and alternatives to incarceration and to life-long dependency on drug treatment.
The conference will create a room for elaborating a practical guide to how a recovery city will look like, this will be grounded on the recent evidence-based research.
Sheffield Hallam University (UK), Ghent University (Belgium) and the City of Gothenburg have already started working on this guide in practice.

In order to find out more and to register please visit a joint webpage here.

 WFAD logo jpg  Logo Gothenburg


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ECAD 24th Mayors` Conference materials

On June 12-13, the city of Kaunas hosted ECAD 24th Annual Mayors`s Conference 2017

Safe Cities Without Drugs. Preventing, Protecting, Policing

Key-note speakers:

David W. Spencer, Field intelligence Manager, Drug Enforcement Agency, European Region

Supply reduction and dismantling drug trafficking organizations: In what ways can local communities benefit (PDF)

Kim Nilvall, Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence section, Organized crime

Police work in socially disadvantaged areas in Sweden: Impact of drugs on urban crime (PDF)

 Torsten Stodiek, Deputy Head, Strategic Police Matters Unit, Community Policing Advisor, Transnational Threats Department, OSCE

Preventing terrorism and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that lead to terrorism:

A community and intelligence led policing approach (PDF)

Jon Sigfusson, Director for Icelandic Centre of Social Research and Analysis, Reykjavik University, ICSRA

Youth in Europe and Planet Youth (PDF)

Laimonas Vasiliauskas, Senior Specialist, Serious and Organized Crime Department, EUROPOL

European Illicit Drug Market (PDF)

 Antonio Boscini, Health Director, San Patrignano Community, Rimini, Italy

Recovery and social reinsertion: San Patrignano Community model extended (PDF)

a wall of participants



 Conference Booking Form

@ Rokas Tenys, the Kaunas Castle

Kaunas Castle
Picture: @Rokas Tenys

Warm welcome to Kaunas, Lithuania!

Archives of ECAD's mailed newsletters from 2003 until 2013. To subscribe to ECAD's new email-based newsletter, click here.
Official ECAD mission statements in six different European languages.
The ECAD Resolution, crafted at a conference to increase cooperation between cities, provides inspiration and hope for areas with particularly difficult drug problems. The signatories to the resolution will affirm their decision to fight against the spread of drugs.