Making the National Strategy on Addiction work for practitioners in addiction aid: how Swiss authorities and civil society bridge theory and practice
Since 2017, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) in Switzerland has been implementing the National Strategy on Addiction. The National Programmes "Alcohol", "Tobacco" and "Illicit Drugs" were replaced by an integral strategy that covers all forms of substance addiction as well as behavioural addiction.
The National Strategy on Addiction has eight fields of action. Four of them address lines of action in the four-pillar policy of Switzerland: prevention, treatment, harm reduction, regulation. Four additional fields of action describe cross-sectoral tasks: coordination and cooperation, knowledge, awareness-raising and information, international policy. Many of the 24 measures meant to implement the strategy rely on close collaboration between the FOPH and practitioners in the field of addiction aid – therapists, counsellors, social workers, etc.
However, it has not been easy for the professionals in addiction aid to grasp the integral, overarching new strategy – what is it supposed to mean for their day-to-day work? Their work with clients usually tackles one or more substances or behaviours like alcohol or gambling. Is this no longer in line with the new strategy? What place does the FOPH foresee for them in implementing it?
The oral presentation summarises the “lessons learnt” so far in implementing the National Strategy on Addiction. It presents how the FOPH and the association of addiction professionals “Fachverband Sucht” are working together in order to bridge the gap between strategic national goals and the daily work of local or regional institutions in the field of addiction aid. It specifies which provisions and measures were taken at FOPH and Fachverband Sucht individually and which common steps of action were undertaken (be it internal wordings, meetings, events, etc.).
The talk does not show any research results, but it presents good practice in developing a national addiction policy strategy and implementing it with partners in the civil society. It is open for discussion with participants from countries with similar or upcoming policy processes.
The talk is held by Mirjam Weber, Head of the National Strategy on Addiction, Federal Office of Public Health Switzerland and Stefanie Knocks, Secretary General of Fachverband Sucht. Fachverband Sucht is the umbrella organisation of addiction aid institutions (drug prevention, addiction treatment and therapy, harm reduction, etc.) in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.