The government of Brussels-Capital Region is to spend five million euros in 2019 toward the creation of a huge centre for drug addicts, to open in 2023 in the vicinity of Tours & Taxis (photo) in the port of Brussels. The news was revealed by minister-president Rudi Vervoort in an interview with the Belga news agency. Vervoort expressed his support for the common position that drug addiction ought to be treated as a public health issue, rather than as a police and criminal justice problem – the so-called War on Drugs, widely viewed as having failed.
Vervoort said he had been influenced by the situation in Portugal, where hard drugs have been decriminalised since 2000. Vervoort visited Portugal himself, and found that “The number of addicts has, to many people’s surprise, gone down, and drugs networks have shrunk,” he said.
The Brussels drugs centre would take an integrated approach, including as well as a users’ centre – where drug addicts can continue to use drugs in safe and hygienic conditions, thus helping to prevent spread disease – also a multidisciplinary team offering a variety of social, legal, medical and psychological services.
The centre – covering an area of some 3,500 square metres – would also allow addicts to wash themselves and their clothes and be fed. It would also provide an emergency live-in service during which, for a maximum period of 12 days, users could be treated, have their drug use stabilised and later be referred to a hospital for more long-term care, as well as making use of a service to bring them into line with social security requirements.
The centre, to be known as Transit, has the support of the Brussels-City commune, the Brussels-Ixelles police zone and the prosecutor’s office for the Brussels judicial area.