Working with people who live with infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis or are affected by a current pandemic situation of SARS-CoV-2 requires a well-equipped ‘toolbox’ of skills and knowledge, multiple levels of action: direct practice with specific, vulnerable target groups, individual casework, and social group work. In the face of rapidly changing pandemic situation, responsive and adaptive social work practice is especially important in relation to sustainable development goals.
Provision of adequate and fair healthcare including OST and psycho-social counselling as well as medical care for incarcerated people is an important aspect for social work. Incarcerated people are often denied the basic medical care that is generally available to people in the civic society, highlighting the injustice and the need for urgent change of policies to address the issue.
Social work with addiction and drug treatment practices have been important within the profession’s history and philosophy. Many social workers have to deal with clients who are using drugs problematically or are related to people whose close ones are engaged in problematic drug use. Social workers are needed in drug treatment services as the addiction often bridges a number of social, economic, psychological, and health concerns. Moreover, social workers’ role has become especially important with the acceptance and dissemination of harm reduction approach as an important drug policy strategy.
The challenge of addiction social work is to find its place between traditional drug treatment strategies and self-help fellowships instead of maintaining a role of mere referral and mediation. Its purpose should be to combine both medical and bio-psycho-social approaches in bridging the gap within current treatment systems. Harm reduction, and opioid substitution treatment (OST) allow precisely that. OST offers a long-term care of people who are diagnosed with addiction to opiates or derivatives.
Harm reduction is an important policy strategy through which areas of health and integration began to take a different, more humanistic turn. It includes policies, programmes and practices aiming to reduce negative impacts associated with drug use. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social workers have a key role in developing drug treatment and harm reduction interventions.
SOLID - Social work and strengthening of NGOs in development cooperation to treat drug addiction. As social work practice and research with drug users is still at its early stages, in both China and Central Asia, the SOLID project can be used as a tool in establishing and implementing social work education, practice, and research.
Pverdose is a leading cause of death among people who use opioids. Worldwide, almost 70,000 people die from opioid overdose each year. The number of opioid overdoses has risen in recent years. Opioid overdose is treatable with naloxone.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call for action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. In compliance with SDGs, provision of adequate and fair healthcare including OST and psycho-social counselling as well as medical care for incarcerated people is an important aspect for social work and its development in each country partnering in the SOLID project.
Drug Situation in Central Asia and China. In Central Asia, the prevalence of opioid use is twice as high as in Europe, in China there are almost 5 million opioid users, still a small number in relation to the total population, but an enormous problem for the healthcare system.
Approaches to drug demand reduction have expanded and diversified considerably during the last two decades. New, evidence-based intervention types are developed and evaluated, new settings are included in the treatment and prevention networks, special target populations have gained more attention.
New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are defined by UNODC as “substances of abuse, either in a pure form or a preparation, that are not controlled by the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs or the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, but which may pose a public health threat”.