Aksion Plus is implementing an outreach
intervention in some of the hot spots of Tirana. Two outreach
workers (a former IDU and a former sex worker and drug users) are
providing clean needless, leaflets, condoms, multivitamins for some
of the Roma IDUs in a poor health and referral to other services.
Most of the drug users report their strong need to enroll in opiate
substitution treatment or any other type of treatment.
The Harm Reduction records show high-risk behavior among drug users,
mainly sharing of used needles and syringes. There are no reliable
data related to the morbidity and mortality in Albania pertaining to
the drug use.
According to our findings there is still a strong need to continue
with the provision of services of the Harm Reduction Center.
Aksion Plus is implementing the following services and
- Methadone Maintenance Program for nearly 120 clients. This
program is supported by Soros (IHRD) and currently by GFATM
- Improving the sexual and reproductive health of drug users,
creation of friendly spaces for them (in collaboration with
- Surveys, questionnaires, assessment of the situation with
respect to drug use (Aksion Plus was involved actively during
the latest Behavioral/Biological Surveillance conducted by
Family Health International – August 2005)
- Outreach (contacts with DU s, providing information and life
skills, collecting used syringes, condom distribution etc)
- Raise the awareness of the general population
- Training with students of Social Work, DU s, peer educators,
and other youth
- Formal and non formal education with the staff and volunteers
- Publication of brochures, posters and other material
- Medical assistance and simple medical training, referral
to other services.
- Training with the police forces with the Anti-drug Dept regarding
drug use, harm reduction, protection of human rights of DU
- series of seminars and lectures in high schools of Tirana.
Another very useful service that is now available on the center
is counseling, one to one or group counseling.
- Lectures at the Faculty of Social Work and Psychology to
present the centerís activities and have their input in the
In Tirana (Albania) there is a substantial number of drug users
that are not in contact with helping facilities and they should
be traced and motivated to enter treatment.
They need also practical assistance in social, medical and health
problems, AIDS prevention etc.
- A lot of drug users (maybe 500 including other towns) will
be contacted with a certain ratio between drug users who were
never in touch with existing facilities and those who had previous
contacts. Specific subgroups of drug users will be contacted
(women, young drug users, certain ethnic groups, migrants and
- Certain interventions will be carried out (such as: distributing
needles, condoms, information materials, referral addresses,
providing counseling and training, social support and other
advises to handle their situation)
- To conduct simple questionnaires with drug users.
- Maintain contacts and improve collaboration with other NGOs,
agencies and Governmental structures.
- We will fight against any discrimination and stigmatization
toward drug users and will protect their human rights.
Main priorities/activities for this project
- A strong need to continue with the Harm Reduction activities
among drug users as the only and the safest way to reduce
harms related to drug use.
- Put more efforts in reaching out more drug users that do
not make use of the services delivered in the Center. Outreach
workers will have to be more active and “aggressive” in
identifying drug users in the drug scene. It is true that
they were having problems with the police during their needle
exchange but we think we can improve things in this level.
- Strengthen newly introduced elements that improve the quality
of services and enhance the impact of the center (Drop-in Center
- Establish the network with governmental and non-governmental
structures to respond to the phenomenon of drug use. We are
contacting the Minister of Social Affairs, head of the Drugs
and AIDS Committee, Minister of Public Health and the Director
of Institute of Public Health to co-ordinate our efforts and
- One of the main interventions will be to set up contacts
with drug users in other towns. They suffer manifold consequences
because the high level of stigma, and the total lack of services
Aksion Plus is aware that drug users have more needs and problems
that the Center could afford. Anyway we have been trying to address
some of them taking into consideration the limited financial
sources. After a long experience with drug users and interviews
with them we can deduce that DU s are exposed to the following
- HIV/STI (Hepatitis) transmission
- Basic rules of hygiene are not respected during heroine injection
- Involvement in criminal activities
- Overdose risk
- Negative model for other youth
- Stigma and prejudices from friends, state social/health services
and from their families
- Abandonment and denial
We provide a warm and friendly space where they can share some
time with non-using people, namely peer educators, volunteer students
from the Faculty of Social Sciences, trainers etc. This is the
most important element that other services have been missing so
far. They want to get mingled with other people in order to find
their motivation to quit drugs because, they say, it is quite impossible
to quit drugs in the company of drug users.