Fesat European Foundation of Drug Helpines
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What is

  • is a network which currently joins together about 50 European drug helpline services
  • has a charter setting out the ethical principles to which all members of the Foundation adhere
  • has representatives from the Member States of the European Union on its Board ,who are experts in drug helpline work

Second SEKPDAH Meeting puts the spotlight on NPS

Two weeks ago SKEPDAH had its second Transnational Learning Exchange Meeting in Frankfurt, Germany. All partners met on September 25th and 26th 2017 at the Basis e.V.  drug service offices. The topic on the agenda was New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and more specifically how Drug and Alcohol Helplines can deal with this recent phenomenon. 


SKEPDAH stands for Skills and Knowledge Exchange Project for Drug and Alcohol Helplines. It is a so-called KA2 Strategic Partnership under the Erasmus+ program running from January 2017 to August 2018. During this project eight Eight Drug and Alcohol Helplines involved in FESAT (representing Ireland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal, Cyprus, Norway, The Netherlands and Germany) and a British training institute will have transnational meetings to exchange know-how and skills. The project focusses on three topics that are currently challenging Drug Helpline workers throughout Europe: helpline skills and risk of burn out; dealing with NPS (New Psychoactive Substances) and managing Dual Diagnoses at the Helpline. The meetings and exchanges will lead to curriculae on each of these topics that will hopefully inspire others beyond the project to integrate them in their lifelong learning activities. 

New drugs, new challenges?

NPS sampleOver the past years New Psychoactive Substances have raised a lot of interest in drug monitoring and research as well as in treatment, prevention and harm reduction work. Because of their low threshold acessibility Drug Helplines are of course also faced with inquiries about these new drugs. The online survey amongst FESAT partners that inquired about the challenges they are confronted with and which lead to the SKEPDAH project application, highlighted NPS as one of the common points of interest. Of course it was for this reason that NPS became one of the three topics of the SKEPDAH project. 

Gathering knowledge and building skills

There are quite a lot of resources available on NPS themselves. Prior and during the meeting a list of dose were gathered and schare online. Some project partners had more know-how than others just as NPS appeared to be more of a challenge and reality for some than for others. Just like during the previous partner meeting, the agenda focussed pooling knowlegde, sharing experience and mapping possible gaps. The partners learned that there are quite a lot of (online) resources available on the effects and risks of NPS. The bigger challenge seemed to be how to keep up-to-date and even more which skills it takes to 'apply' the available knowledge in one-on-one contacts at the helpline. Along the way it became clear that Drug Helpline workers mainly need strategies, guidelines and teamwork to deal with NPS rather than to became NPS-experts.
With this in mind a set of 8 learning outcomes/competences were identified. Understanding the ever-changing world of NPS, classifying NPS in relation to drug categories and how and where information on NPS can be found, understanding the law on NPS and harm reduction strategies, to name but a few.
These 8 outcomes were the focus for a first version of a curriculum on NPS that was drafted by the end of the meeting. This curriculum will be finalised by the end of the project and be made freely available via our FESAT-website.  


"It was useful for me personally to hear about experiences of NPS in other countries, to compare to and inform my understanding of the situation in my own country and to identify further resources for NPS."
- a participant to the meeting in Frankfurt

Read more about this meeting and download the full report here.   

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