Report on harm reduction in Sweden – Svenska Brukarföreningens analys om Svensk narkotikapolitik

Views of The Users Union (SDUU/SBF) in Sweden

1. General reflections on Swedish policy and the lack of Harm reduction practice based on human right issues as "the right to health"

The Swedish policy on narcotics and drug use is strongly interrelated with an idea that health care and treatment is an all solving solution for all individuals and all aspects of drug using at all times. The reason for this is the ultimate focus on an utopic ideal translated to the end of all narcotics and drug use. This ideal has effects that hinders implementation of harm reduction strategies and solutions. Harm reduction policies stands against law and policy, priorities in effect are based on political issues and less on effective measures to ensure health and good practicies. The standing example of this is the Syringe Exchange programme in the south of Sweden that has been implemented and practiced för almost twenty years, despite the the intention of swedish policy and the rule of law. The other standing example is the difficulties and hardships that meet problematic drug users trying to get substitutional treatment and having a continuation of treatment based on individual needs and situations.

One of the strongest arguments against harm reduction solutions in Sweden also points to Swedish policy and law: to implement programmes like this is understood as conflicting with the no-narcotics and abstinence policy and rule of the law. The solution to this conflict is a compromise with the idea of total abstinence; with some rudimentary implementation of human right issues and professional ad hoc solutions. In order to preserve a policy and a rule of law. Instead of a much needed re-evaluation of the effects of policy and rule of law. Problematic issues based on human right principles and in accordance with strong evidential, empirical material, and professional research in the field pointing out the flaws tend to be ignored and yet again dismissed due to the said conflict.

The view of SDUU-SBF is that Swedish policy regarding drug use and the rule of law stand in the way of possibilities for solutions in compliance with a focus on Harm reduction solutions. We regard this as a highly problematic dilemma that faces people in need of straight forward and some times quite simple solutions, but most of all solutions based on individual needs and situations, not criterias.