There are an estimated 15,000 people who inject drugs in Poland. Warsaw has an adequate supply of substitution programs, so most of the users who are unable to access such treatment tend to be concentrated in other large cities, such as Katowice or Gdańsk.
Many of these people inject heroin in unsafe places, where the sharing of needles and syringes gives rise to many overdoses and HIV and hepatitis C infections. In some areas of Warsaw, there are conflicts between drug users and other residents, because of unsafely discarded needles and other drug litter. Polish drugs law is harsh, and many young people end up in court because of minor drug offences. The increase in the number of people in prison, however, has not led to any decrease in drug use. The real solution would be to treat those people who are dependent, reducing death and disease with the help of pragmatic interventions, such as the distribution of clean needles and syringes.
Heroin dependence can be treated with the help of opiate substitution treatment - that is, with prescription medication such as methadone and buprenorphine. Unfortunately, only a minority of heroin users have access to medical treatment and sterile needles and syringes. Professional organisations working to reduce the harms of drug use say there is a need for a new legal framework, which would permit the creation of complex treatment units offering a continuum of care - a room for drug users where they can not only inject drug in a sterile, supervised environment, but where they can be motivated to change their lives and integrate into society. Please take action and sign our petition for a safer Warsaw - a city that supports real solutions, not punishment!
Our partner in the campaign from Poland is the Polish Drug Policy Network. To learn more about the situation in Poland, watch the movie the Drugreporter produced with the the Polish Drug Policy Network.
If you support our campaign for making our cities safer, please take action and sign the petition!