Globally, between 12 and 21 million people are estimated to use opiates, 3.4 to 3.8 million of whom who live in Europe and Central Asia. The UN Reference Group on HIV and injecting Drug Use also suggests that there are around 3.7 million people who inject drugs (PWID) in Eastern Europe and Central Asia alone, with Eastern Europe having the highest regional prevalence of injecting drug use worldwide. About one quarter of these PWID are thought to be living with HIV.
Opioid Substitution therapy (OST) is known as the most effective currently available treatment option of opioid dependence, when combined with psychosocial assistance. There is strong and consistent evidence that shows that access to OST also reduces the use of illicit opioids, criminal activity, death due to overdose, and is associated with improvements in physical and mental health, as well as social functioning. The World Health Organization added methadone and buprenorphine to its list of essential medicines in 2005.
According to the latest update on the global state of harm reduction published in 2010, OST is available in 70 countries and territories around the world.
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IDPC Briefing Series on Drug Dependence Treatment No 1