Migrants’ training on substance misuse

The “Help with Drug Addiction” programme is one of the few projects in Germany specifically designed to help migrants to understand drug use, prevention and treatment. Ahmet Kimil, a Turkish psychologist born and educated in Germany, coordinates the programme for AIDS & Mobility partner EMZ in Hanover.

Language and cultural differences mean that not only do migrants not know that services are available to help them, they often don’t understand the treatment on offer. The EMZ programme aims to help migrants make better use of the services offered by the German health system, as well as increasing understanding of drug addiction as a health problem and its links with other issues such as HIV. The programme trains migrants who then go on to educate others in their community. Training looks at a range of substances and their differing risks and shows how addiction develops and is affected by many elements of a person’s background. Ahmet’s experiences delivering the EMZ programme have shown that young migrants with drug problems often have other issues to deal with: “In our experience problems with drugs go together with problems in life. For young people with an addiction stressful times with parents and family are a common issue. While parents may have different values – it is important that young people can develop and openly communicate their own.” Whilst friends and family can be important sources of help and support for people who have problems with drugs, professional counselling services can also be very helpful. These services are confidential and available for free. “It is important that migrants make use of these very good services,” says Ahmet. “In our training for HIV/AIDS mediators we provide information and links to specialized drug services.”

The project in Hanover has trained over 200 transcultural health mediators to educate other migrants about addiction and harm reduction in a programme funded by the City of Hanover. “A range of services are available for those with addiction issues, including hepatitis vaccination, clean needles and syringes, medication and opiate substitutes. Education in many languages opens the route for understanding even for people who do not speak German. As AIDS & Mobility rolls out, we will be reaching young people in fifteen languages and in six European countries until 2011”.


Co-funded by the European Union under the Programme of Community Action in the Field of Public Health 2003-2008 / Executive Agency for Health and Consumers.
Greater Hannover City of Hannover Lower Saxony

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