The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), through its study titled TREATMENT AND CARE FOR OLDER DRUG USERS, published in 2010, highlights the need to develop specific services and programs for ageing drug users, which in this group are considered to be people aged 40 or more. According to this study, almost 20% of people who start treatment in Europe (30% in some countries) exceed the age of 40 years. The age of people treated with substitutes confirms this trend, and even, in some countries, more than 50% of these cases are 40 years old or older.
A pattern of long-term consumption, a poor health history, the deterioration of the immune system related to age, as well as infectious diseases derived from the consumption, are some of the characteristics that present the ageing drug users.
The BeTrAD project has as its main objective the analysis of the needs of drug users who maintain their consumption in old age and who have become older from a social and health perspective. The final result of the project has to provide professionals with the necessary tools, resources and knowledge to facilitate and improve the attention to this group of people. Partner in this project is the euro net member Generalitat de Catalunya.
The project works on 5 work areas:
• Evaluation of existing policies and services addressed to older people who use drugs in Europe.
• Collection of good practices and development of a guide with specific services for the attention of ageing drug users.
• Design of a training curriculum as a model to expand at national-level. To evaluate its effectiveness, it will be implemented in a Summer School that will take place in Frankfurt in June 2018.
• Creation of a web site where the results of the projects will be available: betrad.eu
To date, the collection and selection of good practices were carried out. For the identification process, a questionnaire was developed and distributed among different entities and organizations dealing with drug dependences and also services for the care of the elderly. As a result, 113 responses were gathered from centres in 27 European countries, of which 20 were selected as examples of good practices, based on the following criteria: a) the most complete range of services, b) commitment to training / education, c) work in exceptional circumstances, d) the most complete and best-developed methods and e) the offer of specific services for the target group. The selected examples will form the guide of good practices.
The results of this research indicate that there are few specific care programs for ageing drug users, and that their needs are solved in services for the general drug addiction attention. It is very unusual to train professionals in this field. However, some organizations have developed specific plans focused on specific services for current and future needs of this target group.
More Information about BeTrAD: www.betrad.eu