Activism as Means to Decrease the Stigma of Drugs – Obstacles and Hope for the Future

Civil activism means fighting for changes, for gaining certain rights or simply introducing the broader public with a certain problem or a state that needs to be corrected. Drug activism carries certain difficulties and challenges distinctive for this issue.

Civil activism in any social field requires a lot of effort, devoting most of one’s free time, obligations, as well as complete dedication towards achieving the desired goals. Any form of civil activism means fighting for changes, for gaining certain rights or simply introducing the broader public with a certain problem or a state that needs to be corrected. Drugs activism carries burden and certain obstacles anyone resolved to take this road should be prepared to face and accept at the very beginning. Unfortunately, we live in a society where drugs remain a taboo topic and where people foster certain loathing and prejudices towards anyone dealing with this issue, disregarding the reasons why an activist would choose this problematic and whether he/she is personally concerned with it.  

A Brief History of Drug User Self-Organisations

This technical briefing tells the story of a number of different groups and networks formed by people who use drugs to promote our health and defend our rights. A historical view is taken to help draw out common themes and create a framework for discussing and developing drug user organisations. Many drug user groups take on multiple functions and also as drug user groups mature and develop so they expand, develop and extend their remits.

Grassroots drug user organising

In January 1981, the Junkiebond was formed as an advocacy and activist drug user group based in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. As early as 1981, Junkiebond started an underground needle and syringe programme (NSP) with the aim of protecting people who inject drugs from hepatitis B. They took an activist approach campaigning for effective services for drug users, challenging discrimination and defending human rights.

Who We Are and Where Have We Come? - Interview with Žarir Simrin

 Talking with Žarir is always inspiring and it is difficult to stay on one topic with him. He simply has so much to say, and has the ability to connect seemingly unrelated topics in the discussion. When I met him, in the far 1999, Žarir gave an impression of a versatile and open-minded person, a conclusion that has been confirmed again and again throughout the years. He is among the few people in Macedonia with the courage and virtue to publicly advocate for the rights of people who use drugs. At the beginning of the 21st century, he was among the founders of the Macedonian Association of Drug Users, and later a founder and president of Passage, an organization advocating for the rights of people who use drugs, and he has also been active in other informal groups with identical or similar goals. His experience and knowledge of an activist among people who use drugs inspired the interview. Žarir is a harm reduction outreach worker, and describes himself as a polydrug user, activist and a free artist.


HOPS as Secondary Recipient of the Grant No. MKD-011-G04-T for implementation of the project Ensuring High Quality and Sustainable DOTS Interventions in Republic of Macedonia funded by GFATM,  implementing program activities addressing the sustainability of the TB preventive program in Macedonia is inviting eligible International Consultants to submit proposals for consultancy services for:

Consultancy services for developing effective ACSM Strategy for National - TB Control activities in Republic of Macedonia:

The details about this consultancy including the required qualifications are outlined in the detailed Terms of Reference

Consultancy services for epidemiological modeling and allocative efficiency of the National TB program activities in Republic of Macedonia:

The details about this consultancy including the required qualifications are outlined in the detailed Terms of Reference.

Consultancy services for assessment of Human Resources (HR) Capacities of the National TB program activities in Republic of Macedonia:

The details about this consultancy including the required qualifications are outlined in the detailed Terms of Reference.

Interested International consultants or consultancy agencies are kindly requested to provide the following documentation:

-    CV(s) of expert(s) – if more experts are involved clear division and description of roles of each expert should be provided; 
-    Technical proposal (methodology and approach) on how the assignment will be carried including timetable of the proposed activities; and
-    An all-inclusive financial offer with detailed breakdown of costs. Please make sure to factor in all cost implications for the required service.

Drug Users Activism in Macedonia

“First of all, I am not sure if we can speak of drug users activism, such as I see it, because people have no awareness, no courage, there is no freedom of thought, and lately people have been afraid to talk openly on this subject because we live in such totalitarian times that communism from the past, for instance, seems like no big deal” – drug user, March 2014.

In Macedonia, there is no formal active grass roots organization of people who use drugs. Historically speaking, the organization HOPS was created at the initiative of people who use drugs and functioned as a genuine grass roots organization, which in time expanded its professional structures. In the past 50 years there have been two initiatives for establishing two new grass roots organizations. The first one resulted with the Macedonian Association of Drug Users (MADU), established in 2013 and the second initiative in 2006 with the organization Pasaž. The two instances were instigated by Healthy Options Project Skopje - HOPS. Even though MADU was never set in motion, Pasaž was formally registered and active for a certain period. One of Pasaž’s more significant activities was the publication of a fanzine on various topics related to the interests of people who use drugs. However, although the organization still exists formally and legally, it hasn’t being active for a time now.  

Petition for education for girls and women #PovertyIsSexist

Right now, 130 million girls are out of school.

You wouldn’t be where you are today without an education – and it's in your power RIGHT NOW to help these girls get access to an education.

Your voice is incredibly powerful, so use it to speak up! Act NOW by adding your name here:


The seventh edition of the magazine Drugs - Policies and Practices

We have published the seventh edition of the magazine Drugs - Policies and Practices. This edition is dedicated to the youth, drugs and the activists.

Opposite the superstition on the fatality of drugs are people who confirm that it is not drugs that kill but rather the stereotypes ingrained in current drug policies, education and all cultural forms through which we acknowledge and find our position in the world. These people are brave enough to break the chains of society’s condemnation and publicly admit to having used and/or use drugs. By standing publicly, they disclose that the true evil lies in the institutional discrimination and social stigmatization towards people who use drugs and not in drugs, as policy creators attempt to convince us.

Often drugs activists are sanctioned, even persecuted for the courage to publically speak about the real drug problems, yet they remain persistent in their efforts for introduction of humane drug policies that will contribute towards promotion of the social status of people who use drugs, as well as the promotion of social wellbeing of all.

This is why we dedicate this issue of the Drugs – Policies and Practices magazine to the brave and those still looking to find the courage to stand at the forefront of their own rights.   

The online version you can find it HERE.


I Also Have the Right to Humane Treatment

Because of the lack of treatment programs, four of the children whom the HOPS team met in the course of outreach work have passed away as a result of drug use. HOPS has also documented three further cases of children who use drugs, and took action to try to procure access to treatment – which was not ultimately provided.

An image from the centre of Skopje: Children, barely five years old, walk around the Park of the Female Freedom Fighter, holding a bag, pressing it to their faces from time to time to inhale. Crowds of people hurry past them, never turning back to look at the children; one would think such a scene was quite common and normal.

We have been witnessing this picture for more than 15 years, and yet these children are still on the streets, still inhaling glue, some even injecting heroin. In the course of our work, we have encountered 85 of these children. The youngest we have met who injects heroin is 8 years old, while the youngest inhaling is just 3.


The HIV Platform is issuing a last call to action and minimum leadership to prevent the closing of all HIV and HIV epidemics-related programs in the state

Today, on December 1st, 2016 we celebrate the World AIDS Day. On this day we embrace solidarity with 78 million HIV infected people and remember the 35 million people deceased from AIDS-related illnesses since the first HIV case was discovered. In 2015, the world committed to end the AIDS epidemics by 2030 with the Sustainable Development Goals. Full control of HIV infection shall be possible when all governments worldwide join together and transform all commitments into specific policies, actions and measures in order to provide their citizens with access to well-established HIV prevention, treatment and care interventions.       



We proudly present Drugreporter's new feature documentary: A Day in the Life. Produced by drug users and activists, the movie features the different realities of the global war on drugs by guiding us through one day in the life of people who use drugs in seven cities of the world. Watch the new trailer and check out screening dates and news about the film!