Our work with people who use drugs

Our work with people who use drugs

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APDES is recognized for its work in the area of drugs through projects such as GIRUGaia, which serves people who use drugs in a context of social and health vulnerability. In addition to the projects, we are recognized for our work in the defense of rights and research in the area at international level. Our approach seeks to preserve the lives and respect for human rights of these people in a harm reduction approach.

The most commonly used drug in Portugal is cannabis, but the country has one of the highest rates of risk opium-derived drug users such as heroin and cocaine (crack), which can be smoked or injected. High-risk drugs are those that have high overdose death rates, cause great dependence and have a high impact on the health of consumers. 

APDES believes in an intervention based on the Harm Reduction and Harm Minimization (HRHM) approach that, respects people’s human rights, teaches about consumption and safe materials, minimizing harm, promotes the approximation of health care users.

GIRUGaia has been operating for 18 years in Vila Nova de Gaia with drug users in a particular situation of social and health fragility.

It is a complex and integrated proximity device, which works all dimensions of the individual (biological, psychological, social and cultural) through a multidisciplinary team (Social Worker, Nurses, Doctors, Psychologists and Peers) in community environment.  

In 2020 it followed 122 people using drugs in 20,800 contacts with this population:

    • We made 240 referrals to social and health structures.
    • Promoted more than 2000 moments of health education. 
    • Performed 864 psychosocial care.
    • It provided food support to 122 accompanied 

GIRUGaia is recognized by the World Health Organization for its Programme of Combined Therapy with Low Threshold Opioid Replacement (PCTLTOR), in which it provides methadone, medication for the treatment of HIV and Tuberculosis and others when applicable. This availability follows the logic of giving people some conditions so that they do not expose themselves to the risks that come from a certain type of use of the substances. In addition, it has in operation a Preventive Materials Programme (PMP) for the consumption of drugs and safe sexual practices.