New developments in quality assurance

Several countries (Germany, Austria and Portugal) have issued manuals for medical staff involved in drug-related treatment. Efforts in the framework of the united Kingdom government’s drug strategy have shown that, by investing in budget, organisation, monitoring and staff, waiting lists can be reduced and more problem drug users can gain access to and remain in treatment. In England, 41 % more problem drug users were in contact with drug treatment services in 2003–04 than in 1998–99, and waiting times have been cut by two-thirds since 2001. In 2003–04, 72 % of clients had either successfully completed structured treatment or were retained in treatment, compared with 57 % in 2000–03 (NTA, 2004).

The setting in which drug-free treatment is provided varies considerably. In one group of countries (Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, the United Kingdom) drug-free treatment of problem opiate users takes place predominantly in outpatient settings, whereas a smaller group of countries report predominant use of inpatient settings (Ireland, Italy, Austria) and others show no clear predominance (Sweden, Norway).