NEWSLETTER #02 February 2022


Quality standards (QS) and evidence-based interventions have been at the heart of EU drug strategies (2013-2020; 2021-2025) for years. A wide range of QS for drug demand reduction (DDR) have been developed and disseminated across EU countries, but the implementation of these standards in practice still varies widely from country to country (Country Drug Reports, EMCDDA). The FENIQS-EU project aims to improve the implementation of QS in all three areas of drug demand reduction (DDR) - prevention, treatment/social reintegration and harm reduction - across the EU, with more services, organizations and countries applying QS in daily practice.
The information provided in this newsletter is a summary of the work developed under Work Package 2 – Assessment of Quality Standards Implementation in Europe – Needs and Challenges, coordinated by the Laboratory for Prevention Research – PrevLab (University of Zagreb) and the Department of Special Needs Education – Addiction & Recovery Research Cluster (Ghent University).


To assess the implementation of QS, a secondary analysis of relevant sources was undertaken as a starting point, and consultation with the EMCDDA national REITOX focal points and country representatives and partners networks established. In addition, an online survey (three versions: Prevention, Treatment/Social reintegration, Harm reduction) was developed and implemented focusing on QS extent of implementation, main reasons for implementation, challenges and barriers, support needs and examples of QS implementation practices; and online interviews were held to check compliance with the QS and to get additional information on specific implementation issues.

Application of quality standards across Europe

Prevention area

Treatment/social reintegration area

Harm reduction area

Implementation barriers, needs and challenges

In order to better understand the context of the implementation of QS in EU countries, 26 online interviews were conducted with key stakeholders that expressed their willingness to provide additional information. This also enabled getting information for countries for which data were not available during the online surveys.

Conference presentations FENIQS-EU project

In summary

Information on the implementation of QS in the area of prevention comes from 35 surveys, for the area of treatment/social reintegration from 25 surveys and from 31 surveys for the area of harm reduction, as well as from 23 follow-up interviews. Although several efforts were made, information could not be collected from all DDR areas in all countries. Therefore it is still difficult to draw conclusions about QS implementation across Europe. Furthermore, the sample of key informants is heterogeneous and they provided an overview on the different levels of implementation –national, regional and local level—providing in some cases opposite answers on implementation or reporting QS implementation just when it was formally adopted in their countries.
Taking into account all the limitations and caution in reading the data presented, it nevertheless provides a broad overview of the implementation of QS in EU countries, as well as an insight into the implementation processes of some countries. The fact that is consistently repeated in the results from all DDR areas is that QS, although not formally adopted in many countries, are informally widely used in practice. These data highlight the need to advocate at the EU level for the implementation of QS and to facilitate the adaptation of QS to the contexts of different countries in preparation for QS implementation in real life settings. In addition to training of the frontline practitioners on how to put QS into practice in all DDR areas, there is also a need to train decision and policy makers, as the implementation of standards can be seen as an innovation and all relevant institutions in the country need to be prepared for the implementation of QS. This often goes beyond the competencies of the individual practitioners and requires systemic change in the institutions providing drug demand reduction services.

For further information on the project and access to the full reports,
please visit the project website: