chapter  14
The accepting approach to working with drug users in Germany
Gundula Barsch
ByAn overview of principles, goals and methods
Pages 11

The AIDS crisis: working with drug users under pressure to modernise Already in the mid-1980s the necessary structural changes were being discussed in Germany regarding society’s approach to drug problems, however this effort was lacking a political push. It took the realisation that users of illegal drugs constituted the second largest population infected with HIV for support to materialise. The reason for this reaction was the fear that this group could infect members of the general population by way of sharing infected needles, prostitution, and transmitting the disease to their regular sexual partners. The result was a new social climate in which a paradigm change regarding drug use was at least tolerated. This provided an opportunity for strategies which rejected the traditional abstinence and ‘hitting bottom’ approaches to focus on harm reduction by offering social services to address basic needs, drug substitution treatment, and information about techniques for minimising risk (safer use).1