By Michel Kazatchkine and Mary Chinery-Hesse

Over the past three decades, European governments have been moving to protect people who use drugs from drug-related health harms.

Drug use has been recognised as a public health concern, and needle and syringe programmes, safe injection facilities, and drug checking, combined with a wide range of treatment options, have been set up throughout Europe.

Furthermore, ceasing to see people who use drugs as criminal offenders has led many countries in Europe towards de jure or de facto decriminalisation of drug use and possession for personal use.

In Portugal, consumers may be actively directed to these facilities by the police or social services.

These measures have contributed to easing the problems related to open drug markets and other public safety issues and contributed to decreasing the stigma and discrimination associated with drug use.