A comprehensive municipal support model for drug dependency

The municipal model for support against drug dependency is based on the rollout of comprehensive resources and services, including the creation of a pioneering centre with accommodation for homeless people with addictions. The indicators show that the model improves the health and autonomy of people receiving specialist support and does not have a negative impact on the surrounding area.

16/12/2022 12:05 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

The model includes the promotion of health and prevention and the launch of support services which have a twofold goal: to treat people seeking to give up additions and reduce harm to people who can’t or don’t want to start treatment. In the last four years, the budget for the agency to address drug dependency has grown by 82%, rising from 5.92 to 10.71 million euros.

Comprehensive model for drug dependency

The city has a comprehensive support model which includes both treatment and damage limitation programmes. It has been rolled out through the creation of facilities, services and support and guidance programmes for people with drug addictions.

  • Drug-dependency support and monitoring centres (CAS): the fifteen centres of this type located around the city are one of the main municipal support resources for drug dependency. They all offer comprehensive services with access to treatment and damage limitation programmes. Nine of them include rooms for supervised consumption. The centres can be accessed directly, without the need to be referred. For treatment, users are recommended to request an appointment by phone at the corresponding facility in their district. All teams provide services for people over 18, except for the CAS Horta-Guinardó, which also provides services for teenagers
  • Damage limitation programmes (REDAN): have the goal of reducing the negative effects of active drug consumption in individual and collective health. They are aimed at people who can’t give up consumption or are in the initial stages of treatment. On one hand, these spaces put people with addictions in touch with professional teams offering social and healthcare loans, sanitary education and a link to services. On the other, they provide sterile materials such as syringes and condoms, to reduce the risk of infection associated with drug consumption. REDAN services also include supervised consumption spaces. Most REDAN programmes are part of the CAS, except for some specific resources.
  • Shelter for homeless people with addictions: this facility was opened two and a half years ago to enable homeless people with addictions to self-isolate during the pandemic. It has now become a permanent facility for users and has been operating from the Horta-Guinardó district office since March.

Greater health and autonomy for users

A key factor in increasing the effectiveness of this model was the opening of the centre for homeless people with addictions, in the district of Horta-Guinardó. This is a pioneering centre in Catalonia, with a capacity for 50 people and an annual investment of 2.5 million euros.

Figures show that around 30% of people living in this facility achieve a considerable improvement in their situation, with a notable decrease in drug consumption of between 50% and 70% depending on the substance.

Out of 213 people receiving assistance, sixty successfully completed the improvement and autonomy process and were able to access private housing, share a flat with others, move into an insertion flat, join a therapeutic community, regain family ties or get into another centre in the network for homeless people which does not permit the consumption of substances on the premises.

The existence of a permanent team for coordination, monitoring and follow-up with the District of Horta-Guinardó was a key aspect in guaranteeing harmony with local people and avoiding a potentially negative impact from the facility. Nearby schools have actually seen a rise in schooling applications for the next school year.

Exemplary and replicable system

The good results demonstrate the effectiveness of a model which needs to be expanded and reproduced in both the metropolitan area and the rest of Catalonia, to unify the way that drug dependency is addressed.

Some 23% of people who get support at the Baluard drug dependency support and monitoring centre (CAS) do not live in the city. Of the 14 rooms for supervised injected consumption in Catalonia, 10 are in Barcelona. In addition, the shelter for homeless people with addictions is the only one of its kind in Catalonia.

The City Council has made a request to the Government of Catalonia to extend the model and the latter has pledged to fund 25% of the shelter.



Related news