5. Addressing substance use and related problems in reception settings in Europe
The migration and substance use nexus represent an area of growing interest and concern in the European Union, notably following the increasing influx of applicants for international protection (AIP) from the Middle East and Africa since 2015. Given the high number of AIPs and reoccurring reports of vulnerability to substance use disorders among certain populations, this study aimed to enhance understanding of the extent and nature of substance use among AIPs in Europe and identify promising health and social responses.
This was the first European study exploring substance use related problems and existing responses among professionals in the European reception context. Results from a review of the literature were combined with findings from an online survey and focus groups with over 100 professionals and volunteers working with AIPs in reception settings in 27 EU+ countries, including national authoritybased service providers, local and international NGOs.
The results provide insight into substance use patterns, provision of services to AIPs, existing barriers and facilitators to implement responses in those settings, and priorities for action.
Top-level priorities identified include 1) increasing awareness and competencies in addressing substance use and related responses among staff working AIPs by means of training; 2) better coordination between asylum and health policy domains and services and 3) increasing accessibility of mainstream treatment services, and 4) further research on substance use prevalence and aetiology including the voices of impacted communities. Moreover, promotion and implementation of evidence-based interventions in the domains of screening, prevention, early intervention, harm reduction and treatment are needed in Europe.