The criminalization of people who use psychoactive substances in the Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (CEECA) region, instead of maintenance of public health and safety, increases the financial and social burden on the states. For people who inject drugs, approximately 58% will experience incarceration in their life.
Incarceration costs 2 to 6 times more than treatment from health and social service groups. However, in almost all the countries in the CEECA region, due to de facto criminalization of people who use psychoactive substances, harm reduction and other health services are severely underfunded and depend on international donors. Guidelines from the World Health Organization recommend that at least 40% of people who use opioids receive opioid substitution therapy (OST); however, most countries in the CEECA region barely reach 20%.
Governments should take evidence-based health and human rights approaches and reallocate money from policing, prosecuting, and incarceration of people who use psychoactive substances to community harm reduction and health services.
The guide contains 11 statements, followed by supporting arguments, which should be used in advocacy work. Arguments are prepared based on existing practices and evidence-based information. Arguments are created to advise on advocacy of reallocating funds from law enforcement budgets to health and harm reduction budgets for people who use psychoactive substances.