Portugal

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Drug policy

  • The National Strategy for the Fight Against Drugs, which was launched in 1999, defines the general objectives in the field of substance use.
  • The National Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependences (2013-20) builds on the 1999 strategy.
  • It takes a broad and integrated view of drug and addiction problems, including illicit drug use, new psychoactive substances (NPS), alcohol, prescription medications, doping and gambling.
  • The Law 30/2000, which has been in place since July 2001, decriminalised illicit drug use and related acts. However, a person caught using or possessing a small quantity of drugs for personal use - where there is no suspicion of involvement in drug trafficking - will be evaluated by a local Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction. Punitive sanctions may be applied, though the main objective is to explore the need for treatment and to promote healthy recovery. ​​​​​​​

Treatment Services

  • The National Plan stipulates that treatment interventions should be based on a comprehensive diagnosis of each citizen’s full biopsychosocial needs. It should also be accessible and adaptable, as well as based on scientific evidence and guidelines.
  • Public treatment services are accessible free of charge to all drug users.
  • The treatment network entails three levels of care: (i) primary healthcare services; (ii) specialised care, mainly in outpatient settings; and (iii) differentiated care, mainly in inpatient settings (detoxification units, therapeutic communities, day centres and/ or specialised mental or somatic healthcare).
  • All centres provide psychosocial care, as well as opioid substitution treatment (OST).
  • Early intervention and counselling usually take place in general healthcare centres.
  • Mental health services provide care to drug users with mental comorbidities.
  • Therapeutic communities are mostly privately owned and publicly funded.
  • Treatment of opioid use is a key focus of the drug treatment system. There is also programmes for cannabis and cocaine use.
  • OST is widely available through public services.
  • Methadone has been available since 1977 and buprenorphine since 1999.
  • Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is free. Buprenorphine-based medications are available in pharmacies and National Health System covers 40 % of the market price of the medication.

Prevention Services

  • The Portuguese National Plan for the Reduction of Addictive Behaviours and Dependencies 2013-20 recognises the importance of age-specific prevention in difference contexts, including family, school, recreational and sports settings, community, workplaces, road safety and prisons.
  • Prevention interventions encompass a wide range of complementary approaches.
  • Environmental prevention initiatives include regulating the alcohol and tobacco sales to and their consumption by minors.
  • Universal drug prevention is part of the school curriculum.
  • Recent school-based programmes include general ones that promote an overall perspective on healthy living, as well as specialised initiatives that focus on specific aspects of addictive behaviours and dependences.
  • Recently, a number of major media campaigns have been implemented. These complement other awareness-raising and information initiatives that mainly target young people.
  • Notably in the recreational context, at present there is a growing interest in the application of new technologies that can support preventative interventions and health promotion.

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