Last week ECAD was working in Vienna, participating at the 60th Session of the Commission on Narcotic drugs at the UN.
Among the side events we co-organized, some special attention was devoted to the successfull work in the cities that take part in the Youth in Europe Project.

Read more: Cities lead the way in large scale reduction of drug use

In cooperation with the Government of Iceland, Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis, and IOGT Internationaltwo ECAD cities, Riga and Kaunas, highlighted their experience in working with drug use among adolescents.

Cities are the key in implementing the obligations of preventing drug use set up in the UN General Assembly outcome document and the UN drug conventions. A comprehensive use of data on youth life styles and behaviour helps city practitioners to identify local and specific risk and protective factors to guide the cities` interventions on youth. Cities that take actions based on sound data can substantially decrease the levels of adolescent substance use and other unwanted social behaviour.


The presentations of Riga and Kaunas in Vienna were set against the background of the Icelandic research that dates back to 1998.
In 1998, substance use amongst adolescents in Iceland measured the highest in comparison with all the European countries. In 2015 substance use amongst Icelandic adolescents plummeted to the lowest in Europe. The improvement in substance use is the result of a concerted and in science well-grounded action that can be replicated elsewhere.

General discussion and points raised

·         Cities use data differently, some cities work actively with suicide prevention;

·         Some cites see reduction in tobacco and alcohol use but not in cannabis use. Why this was the case, turned into a vivid discussion in Vienna;

·         It is important to have a comprehensive strategy to address both licit and illicit drug use;

·         Difficulties in importing the model from Iceland.


·         Cities should adopt evidence based primary prevention as a basis for their actions on drugs.

·         National legislation should be grounded in evidence and experience gained from evidence based primary prevention.

·         Member states and civil society need to hear that prevention does work when conducted properly.

Further reading on the Icelandic research

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As a co-partner of the Triple R project, ECAD is going to participate in 2 events planned for the next month, in Vienna at the CND, and in Brussels, open for the public.The project partners have been working on the handbooks for a long while and are now ready to present the results.
Our focus in March is on highlighting the publications on successful rehabilitation, social reintegration and justice intervention practices in the EU.

We will start by organizing a side event at the upcoming United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in Vienna, presenting the Triple R project at Vienna International Center on Monday, March 13, between 1:10-2:00pm.

The event is meant as an introduction to the Triple R Project and will feature the highlights in the 3 thematic areas, presenting the conclusions of the Triple R publications on the subject.


A week after this presentation, the project partners will provide further knowledge in Brussels, illustrating the project results aimed at the successful rehabilitation of drug users.
EU decision makers, NGOs and the public working in the field are welcome to join us on March 20, at the House of Norway in Brussels, Belgium for a half-day seminar.

This event will provide an overview of the rehabilitation and reinsertion models of interventions offered by the Triple R partner organizations.

DATE and TIME: March 20, at 13.30 - 16.00
PLACE: Norway House, Rue Archimede 17, 1000 Brussels.
SEMINAR: Rehabilitation for Recovery and Reinsertion in the EU
Triple R Project on effective rehabilitation models and alternative sentencing

Moderator: Erik Leijonmarck, Secretary General, ECAD

• Welcome coffee
• Setting the scene for the Triple R project,
Elisa Rubini, Deputy Head International Relations, San Patrignano Community, Italy

• How to ensure efficient rehabilitation of drug users: presenting a Manual on drug Rehabilitation
Elisa Rubini, Deputy Head International Relations, San Patrignano Community, Italy

• Movie on Rehabilitation in Practice, 30 min.

• Presenting a Handbook on Justice Intervention and alternatives to incarceration for drug abuse offenders
Alphonse Franssen, Popov GGZ, Care Coordinator, Substance Abuse, East Flanders, and Coordinator/ Liason, Drug Court, Ghent, Belgium

• Presenting a Manual on social reintegration of recovered drug users,
Kristina Blixt, Project Coordinator, Basta Community, Sweden

• Project next steps: Feasibility and Pilot Study in Croatia,
Antonio Molina, Triple Project Evaluator

Please register to participate before March 15, 2017 - send us an email with your details (Name, City, Position, contact details) : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more: Project initiatives in Vienna and in Brussels

We look forward to meeting in Vienna and Brussels!

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ECAD enters 2017 with a tight schedule while working with the Triple R Project - we are planning launching of the RRR project handbooks in Brussels on Monday, March 20, at 14.00 - 17.00 (to be confirmed).
The seminar at the CoR will disseminate effective rehabilitation models based on the EU Therapeutic Communities`best practices and alternative sentencing.

Project products will come with the rehabilitation of drug users in focus; three manuals will be presented: a Handbook on Justice Intervention, a handbook on reintegration and a manual on how to ensure efficient rehabilitation of drug users.This stage of the RRR project will underscore the importance of stability in European societies, promoting cooperation in the EU, especially in the areas of security, justice and social integration.

Our project partners in Italy, Belgium, Spain and Croatia will showcase their experience in a movie.

Please contact ECAD if you want to participate at this seminar in Brussels and obtain our project products for free: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This year’s ECAD study visit to San Patrignano WeFree days gathered some 35 participants, from Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Sweden.

The WeFree days is yearly event joined by 2,500 young participants from all over Italy and Europe, organized by San Patrignano, Europe’s largest rehabilitation community. Founded in 1978, the community helps young people from all walks of life to overcome histories of drug abuse and addiction. San Patrignano hosts nearly 1,500 young people, and has since its founding assisted over 30,0000 people.
The WeFree days gather experts and practitioners to raise awareness on the drug problem, emphasizing the importance of community service in the rehabilitation process. Read more: ECAD in SanPatrignano in October

The theme of the two main WeFree forums was Drugs and Violence – looking at drugs at the root of criminal systems and violent acts, ranging from terrorism to domestic violence.

In his key-note speech, Ahmad Alhendawi, United Nation’s Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, praised the San Patrignano model and its emphasis on social and community values in the rehabilitation process. ”The issue of drug use among young people is a real one, and the way San Patrignano is tackling it shows that when young people a given an opportunity, they can empower themselves and contribute to their communities,” Alhendawi said.

Among other speakers, we heard a strong presentation from Nicola Gratteri, Public Prosecutor and Magistrate in the frontlines of the war against Calabrian mafia organisation Ndrangheta, and living under police protection since 1989. He described Ndrangheta as the only ”globalized” mafia, operating in all five continents and claimed to have a revenue of McDonald’s and Deutsche Bank combined.

At the other end of the scale was Roberta Bruzzoni, criminologist, expert in forensic science and advisor to Telefono Rosa, (a helpline for victims of abuse against women and children), who through her work sees at first hand the results of often drug-induced domestic violence.

In connection with this year’s visit, the ECAD group also had a seminar on ”New Psychoactive Substances, synthetic opioids and Cannabinoids – A challenge for Europe?” with experts from Sweden (Kristina Hillgren) and Italy (Rita Santacroce). This was done within the framework of the ongoing Spice Alert Project in the Baltic Sea region and as a way of expanding the discussions` geography of the of NPS.

Many thanks to San Patrignano community for their hospitality on receiving us!

ECAD had a very informative conference on the novel psychoactive substances on the Baltic and European scale last week. The conference is the last one of the Baltic Spice Alert Project and it was preceded by a study visit to the Swedish Police and Maria Ungdom health and prevention unit, run by the Stockholm County Council and the City of Stockholm.

Read more: Risky trend: novel substance use ignored in a wider context

The reports presented by the Swedish Public Health Agency and the Swedish Council for information on Alcohol and other drugs underscored important concerns with the problematic forms of NPS use, mixing the new substances with other drugs, including prescription drugs. Harms discussed are related to the certain risk groups of users.

A few speakers mentioned the differences in defining NPS-related fatalities. This factor often let NPS merge with other narcotic substances in drug-related fatalities in the statistical picture or not to be taken into account at all. To sum the discusstion we had, there is a general risk to lose the novel psychoactive substances in a wider drug context. This is a practical issue that leaves room for improvement in the international measurement data for drug fatalities.

Synthetic cannabinoids represent the biggest group of these substances. From a health perspective, many synthetic cannabinoids are considerably more toxic, upsetting the drug misuse statistics of the Baltic region with mass poisonings and even fatalities in the last couple of years.
The presentation of Latvian and Estonian colleagues below have a good overview of the local problematic issues. It seems the cannabinoids have not yet lost their actuality among the Baltic youth and synthetic opioids (like Tramadol) and fentanyl-varieties are catching up in popularity, saturating the already saturated drug market in the Baltic Sea region. Some of these varieties are extremely potent (carfentanyl) and are causing serious trouble in other European countries too. For example, carfentanyl entered the UK market some time ago. In general, the NPS use have overgrown cocaine use in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The number of users is growing steadily also in the UK.

When reflecting on the high numbers of drug-related deaths in Sweden, the conference concluded that one could not accurately measure drug-related fatalities and be sure one had the correct comparable numbers even within one geographical area.


Swedish Public Health Agency`s perspective and work related to the NPS (PDF)
Sara Wall, Analyst, Unit for Drug Prevention, Public  Health Agency of Sweden

Parties to die for: NPS-related health risks among youth (PDF)
Rita Santacroce, MD, Psychiatrist and researcher, PhD student at the Department of Neuroscience, University “G. d´Annunzio”, Chieti, Italy 

Synthetic opioids and NPS (PDF)
Håkan Leifman, Director, CAN, Swedish Council for information on Alcohol and other drugs

City of Stockholm prevention work—general overview (PDF)
Therese Holmkvist, Project Manager, Administration of Social Affairs, City of Stockholm

The world of NPS and overdose (PDF)
John Corkery, BA Hons, MSs, MPhil, Drug Epidemiologist & Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy Practice, Psychopharmacology, Drug Misuse and Novel Psychoactive Substances Research, University of Hertfordshire, UK

Drug-related deaths and synthetic opioids and cannabinoids as seen by the Stockholm Police (PDF)
Lennart Karlsson, Superintendent, Stockholm Regional Police, Sweden

NPS in Latvia— challenges and responses : the Police perspective (PDF)
Angelina Gribova, Senior Inspector, Criminal Police, Latvia

NPS and high numbers of use among Estonian youth (PDF)
Anna Markina, researcher,
University of Tartu, Estonia

Estonian Police work with new synthetic substances (PDF)
Margo Kivila, leading Investigator, Drug and Organized Crime Division, Estonian Police and Border Guard Board

Synthetic opioids and Swedish Substance Maintenance Programme (LARO) (PDF)
Kerstin Käll, Chief Physician, leading LARO specialist in Östergötland, Linköping, Sweden


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.


 “Safe Cities Without Drugs. Preventing, Protecting, Policing”:

Kaunas logotype
On June 12-13, the city of Kaunas hosts ECAD Annual Mayors`s Conference 2017.

Please register before May 1, 2017 by filling in the Booking Form and returning it back to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Best Western Santaka Hotel and The Kaunas Hotel are available for ECAD conference guests at a special negotiated price by May 1, 2017.

You book your accomodation yourself, contact your chosen hotel and state that yours is an ECAD booking.

It is very convenient to use both hotels` shuttle service offer to get to Kaunas if you arrive at Vilnius airport. The proximity between these 2 cities is around 100 km. The shuttle service costs 80 € and you will receive this offer when your booking is received and approved by the hotel you choose.

Kaunas in summer is a wonderful place to be, the old city is often called a "Paris in a miniature" and the city has been announced as the European capital of culture.
Use this opportunity to get to know more about Kaunas and the ways of preventing, protecting and policing safe cities this June!

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.