the accessibility of care for drug users in France

Authors: C├ęcilia Comelli*, CNRS
Topics: Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: drug use, France, care
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 8
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper focuses on the accessibility of care for drug users in France. Although France has a prohibitionist drug policy that criminalizes drug users, it also conducts a harm reduction policy for them. This policy was implemented in the 1990s following the AIDS epidemic. The first measure was the distribution of syringes to limit contamination. The range of care offered is much more diversified today. However, drug users are often vulnerable people living in great precariousness and the access to support structures can be difficult for them. The purpose of this paper is to wonder whether and how Harm Reduction professionals have the capacity to adapt to this vulnerable population. This study, conducted in Bordeaux in southwestern France, is based on observations, interviews with experts and discussions with drug users. One of the first difficulties of accessibility is that support centres are not located throughout the territory and that they are open at restricted hours. There are several solutions to limit this accessibility problem: some particularly vulnerable drug users sometimes have access to housing where social workers go to see them. Some social workers are also mobile and go to squats or rural areas to meet drug users to bring them sterile injection equipment. In addition, users who are too far away can receive this equipment by mail. The outreach work is known to enable vulnerable or invisible populations to access services. However, there are limits because it is not implemented everywhere, every day, every hour.

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