A recent publication from the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has pointed out that over the past few years the scope of drugs strategies in a number of EU member states has increasingly been extended to cover all drugs, both licit and illicit:
While a broadening of the scope of drug strategies is not always highly visible, strategic or institutional integration of licit and illicit drugs is increasingly common, even in those countries where the drug strategies refer only to illicit drugs.
Drug strategies in Belgium, France, Germany, Spain and four other EU countries consider alcohol, tobacco and prescription medicines alongside illegal drugs, and the bodies responsible for coordinating drugs strategies have additionally been made responsible for running their country’s alcohol and often their tobacco strategies. In France, for example, the Inter-ministerial Mission for the Fight Against Drugs and Drug Addiction now coordinates the fight against alcohol and tobacco as well, and in Germany the drugs commissioner of the federal government is required to coordinate activities relating to all addictions. In some countries, drugs treatment centres have been merged with alcohol treatment centres or new joint centres have been established. In France, centres for the treatment and prevention of addiction have replaced both outpatient alcohol clinics and specialist drugs treatment centres.
EMCDDA, Annual Report 2006: Selected Issue 1, ‘European drug policies—extended beyond illicit drugs?’, 2006.
In Northern Ireland, whereas alcohol and drugs policy was split into separate strategies in 1999 and 2000, the ‘New Strategic Direction for 2006-11’ merges them again, in an inter-agency plan that covers illegal drugs, alcohol, prescribed medicines, over-the counter medicines and volatile substances.
The RSA Drugs Commission strongly recommend that the drug and alcohol strategies in England should be similarly integrated when they come up for review in 2008 and 2007.