Addiction is a wicked policy issue (inherently resistant to a clear and agreed solution) that affects different policy areas and society at large. Every year around 800,000 people in Europe die because of addictive substance problems. Despite these figures, national governments in the EU still embrace different strategies and approach the problem from different perspectives. Leaving aside whether it would be better to embrace a single EU policy in order to effectively tackle this problem, the book presents the different approaches of 28 European countries (the 27 EU member states since September 2013 plus Norway). In order to present the state-of-the-art of governance of addictions in these countries, the analysis gives special attention to how four substances have been tackled: alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and heroin.
After framing the study and providing an overview of what has happened at EU level in recent decades, the body of the book presents four different typologies found among the 28 countries. Each chapter describes the overall characteristics of the model to then broadly present the main features of those countries included in the model. This enables readers from any of the countries included in the study to understand why their country has been grouped in one model or another.
The result is the clustering of countries into 4 groups representing different governance models which have been labeled:
Traditional approach: where the most important aim is to reduce supply through criminal justice measures – the reason for the security and reduction emphasis in these countries is that they have historically been entrance points or routes for illicit drugs into the EU.
Transitioning: treatment is more important than punishment, but these countries still tend not to lean towards decriminalisation in policies.
Regulation of legal substances: Emphasis is on preventing heavy use over time. These countries adopt a wellbeing approach and focus on scales that are evidence-based.
Trendsetters in illicit substances: Countries here adopt a well-being and comprehensive approach (dealing with multiple substances together). The focus is on harm-reduction for illegal substances and countries in this group rank low in regulation of legal substances – alcohol and tobacco.
There is a tendency in EU for countries to move from traditional to trendsetting models. The overall aim is to take the best for addictions governance from each model.
Furthermore, the book includes annexes in which the readers will find specific information for each of the 28 countries. Key information on a country and those determinants that explain its classification can be seen at a glance, in a single page.
This book is one of the outcomes of the 5-year EU research project ALICE-RAP (Addictions and Lifestyles in Contemporary Europe – Reframing Addictions Project). Throughout the research process and the elaboration of the book, the information and the results from the analysis have been reviewed by well-known European scientists in the field of addictions, who are involved in ALICE-RAP.