The tenth edition of the magazine Drugs - Policies and Practices

Today we are publishing the tenth issue of the magazine Drugs - Policies and Practices. This number was dedicated to  „Drugs Integral to Culture".

Drugs are integral to culture, but you really don’t have to agree with this. It is absolutely irrelevant whether you accept the arguments asserting that even alcohol, coffee and cigarettes, or sedatives you take more or less often to relax or fall asleep, are drugs. It is all drugs and the excuse of not being interested in such “claims” or avoiding more serious arguments in discussions you yourself have initiated will not provide you with immunity from the responsibility that you also participate in the reproduction and development of the drug use culture. Yes, that is correct. You are participants and bear the responsibility. No, you’re not sinners and you shouldn’t be condemned. You, like all others, simply replicate the cultural patterns you have acquired from the environment you grew up in.

 True, since the middle of the 20th century this environment has expanded due to the development of mass media, such as radio, television and particularly the internet. If you don’t like the fact that “young people are increasingly taking drugs” and you fear that your children “will become junkies” and are looking for more repressive measures against people who use drugs – stop. Stop and ask yourself about the role you have played in the development of the drug use culture. We won’t judge. We simply offer a different perspective from the one you have.

HR19 Host City Announced as Porto, Portugal

Harm Reduction International (HRI) and Agência Piaget para o Desenvolvimento (APDES) are delighted to announce that the 26th Harm Reduction International Conference – HR19 – will be held in Porto, Portugal from 28 April to 1 May 2019.

For international visitors, this conference will be a unique opportunity to learn about the benefits and lessons learned from Portugal’s progressive approach to drug policy and harm reduction, which included the decriminalization of the possession and use of all drugs. Since 2001, the country has shown us that decriminalization partnered with harm reduction can reduce HIV and overdose rates and increase access to vital health and social services. The approach has also highlighted the gaps in this policy-first approach and the need to include people who use drugs in policy making and other decisions about their health and rights.

For locals, the conference will be an exceptional opportunity for community groups, networks of people who use drugs, healthcare and social services stakeholders, law enforcement officials, academics and the wider population to learn about other progress and innovation around the world and to share their own expertise and experience with a global audience. HR19 will also provide a rare opportunity for networking among harm reductionists from Lusophone countries.

Call for Articles for 11th issue of the Drugs – Policies and Practices magazine


HOPS – Healthy Options Project Skopje’s Center for Education, Documentation, and Research and Coalition “Sexual and Health Rights of Marginalized Communities” announce a call for articles for the 11th issue of the Drugs – Policies and Practices magazine.

The main topic for the 11th issue of the magazine is Drug consumption rooms. Despite the main topic, we welcome all other articles related to aforementioned topics.

Deadline for this call is March 20, 2018. Editorial Board will do the selection of received articles and other materials. Selection criteria are:
  • Expertise (knowledge and experience for described topics)
  • Creativity
  • Cutting-edge
  • Due performance

Recommendations for drug users in extremely cold weather

If you use drugs you should take extra care of your health and well-being in extremely cold weather. One way to adapt to climate change is to know how to care for yourself and others during cold and low temperatures.

Your health comes first:
  • Stay in closed and heated rooms during the extreme cold, especially after taking the drug.
  • Always contact your doctor if you do not feel well physically and mentally. 
  • Drugs can affect your body temperature. Drug use can lead to hypothermia, which leads to the appearance of vague speech, tiredness, memory loss, shaking, stiffness, breathing changes, heart rate changes, and blood pressure.
  • Reducing the use of drugs in extremely cold weather should only take place under medical supervision.
  • If you are addicted to drugs (especially opiates or benzodiazepines), do not stop taking the drug at once without medical attention.

Prominent Women in the Field of Drugs

Ann Shulgin

Ann Shulgin (Laura Ann Gotlieb born 22 March 1931) is an American psychotherapist, researcher and the wife (widow) of American chemist, psychopharmacologist and researcher Alexander Shulgin (1925-2014).

Ann Shulgin worked with psychedelics such as MDMA and 2C-B in therapeutic settings while they were still legal. She has unique and valuable insights into the beneficial effects psychedelics can have in therapeutic contexts. In her writings she accentuates the potential these drugs have from a Jungian psychoanalytic perspective.

Ann continues to speak at conferences about the healing potential of MDMA and psychedelics and has continued to advocate the use of psychedelics in therapeutic contexts and research.

Together with her husband she has authored the books PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story - Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved (1991) and TiHKAL: The Continuation - Tryptamines I Have Known and Loved (1997) and she is working on Book Three in that series. Ann Shulgin has also contributed to the books Thanatos to Eros: 35 Years of Psychedelic Exploration; Entheogens and the Future of Religion, Manifesting Minds: A Review of Psychedelics in Science, Medicine, Sex, and Spirituality and many more.        

Source Info:

Dosage of Psychoactive Substances

The term overdose implies an accepted safe dose and safe use of PAS or medications.

With periodic use of psychoactive substances (PAS) in low or moderate doses, serious and life-threatening conditions are not common. The risks from psychoactive substance use largely depend on the substance, the dosage, frequency and mixing different PAS.    

What is a dose?

The term dose refers to the ‘quantity of PAS or a medication introduced to the body in order to achieve optimal effects in most users.’ In terms of classification of dosage, there are several levels: microdose, threshold, light, common, strong, heavy and overdose (fatal or non-fatal). Each of these levels is distinguished with different intensification of the effects depending on the substance consumed.

In the context of recreational PAS use, understanding the doses and being careful regarding the quantity and manner of consumption is crucial to achieving a safe and pleasant experience. Consumption of a higher dosage can lead to negative experiences such as extreme anxiety, strong physical and psychological side effects, unpleasant psychedelic trips, hospitalization or (in extreme cases) death. On the other hand, with a very low dosage, a person might not feel the full effects, and that can lead to unpleasant feeling and frustration. This should not be disregarded since in such cases, a re-dose can result with sudden intense and potentially dangerous experience that is hard to control.

The Macedonian War on Drugs

The War on Drugs is a term applied to “the campaign of police and military interventions for the prevention of illegal production, trade and use of illegal drugs.” Drugs are “all psychoactive substances declared as illegal by the UN and specific governments.” The term War on Drugs was “popularized by the media after President Richard Nixon’s speech on 18th June, 1971 in which he declared drugs as public enemy number one and announced harsh measures to eradicate drugs.”  

Famous psychotherapists

Stanislav Grof

Stanislav Grof (born July 1, 1931) is a Czech psychiatrist, one of the founders of the transpersonal psychology and a researcher in the field of consciousness studies.

Grof is known, in the scientific circles, for his early studies of LSD and its effects on the psyche - psychedelic therapy. Grof constructed a theoretical framework for prenatal, perinatal and transpersonal psychology in which LSD and other powerfully emotional experiences were mapped onto a person's early fetal and neonatal experiences. Following the suppression of legal LSD use in the late 1960s, Grof develops a theory that many states of mind could be explored without drugs by using certain breathing techniques. He continues this work under the trademark "Holotropic Breathwork".

Grof received the VISION 97 award granted by the Foundation of Dagmar and Václav Havel in Prague on October 5, 2007.
Grof is a prolific author, having written numerous books about LSD's use in psychotherapy, altered states of consciousness, and other methods of conducting deep psycho-spiritual work.     
Source info: Erowid and Wikipedia

Disrespecting the Law on Execution of Sanctions – reason for adverse consequences on the life of people who use drugs

Pursuant Article 193 from the Law on Execution of Sanctions during a prison sentence, with an increased intensity in the last three months before the expiration of the sentence, “it is necessary to undertake activities in order to prepare the convicts for release from prison and their adjustment to life at freedom.” However, quite often people are released from prison without any personal identification documents and proper health care.   

On October 9th, 2016, M.H. was released from prison, serving a sentence at the correctional facility Idrizovo in duration of 14 years. During imprisonment he had no personal documentation. And here is where the first question arises. How could M.H. have been convicted without proper personal identification? How did the prosecutor and the judge establish the defendant’s correct identity without proper personal identification documents? According to our sources, the judiciary system doesn’t allow for such situations, however convicts without valid personal identification documents are still found in prisons. The failing system goes so far that during elections convicts vote with their facility badges instead of IDs. However, convicts who lack valid personal identification documents are faced with real problems once they are released.

Providing sustainability of harm reduction programs with funds from beer, ethyl alcohol and cigarettes excise duty

The funds allocated to the Ministry of Health for promotion of citizens’ health on annual basis, from beer, ethyl alcohol and cigarettes excise duty, , are potential source for funding of harm reduction programs. Half of the funds collected from this source, are spent for the Ministry’s current expenditures, instead of providing health care.
The Ministry of Health and the Macedonian Government have at their disposal many opportunities for providing sustainability of the 16 active harm reduction programs, implemented by 10 civil society organizations in the country. These should be seriously considered in the development and budgeting/operationalization of the 2017-2021 National HIV Strategy, especially since the financial support received from the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria designated for these purposes is ending on June 30, 2017. Consequently, if the Global Funds’ participation is not compensated with funds provided from the National Budget, Macedonia is going to face a severe increase in the HIV incidence, other blood-borne diseases, and other consequences to the health of people who use drugs.