The First Regional Forum on Drug Addiction and Recovery was held on 19/20 November 2019 in Belgrade. The Forum was supported by the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, within the third regional project “I Chose Recovery”, which has been implemented by organizations “Celebrate Recovery” from Bosnia and Herzegovina, “Way Out from Serbia and “Rebirth” from Montenegro for the third year in a row, in partnership with the World Federation Against Drugs -WFAD.

The Forum was attended by 170 participants from 116 organizations/institutions from Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as guest speakers from Austria, Croatia, Spain, Great Britain, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Slovenia. Insight into the benefits that recovery process brings to individuals, families and broader community from the scientific aspect was given by Prof. Dr. David Best, criminology professor at the Derby University in Great Britain, who presented research results of “Life in Recovery in the Balkans”, as well as Dr. Wouter Vanderplasschen, associate professor at the Department for Education in the Field of Special Needs at the Gent University in Belgium, who spoke about the role of treatment in addiction recovery. Research presented within this session demonstrated that there are solid evidence on successfulness of psychosocial treatments such as groups of mutual assistance/self-assistance/12 steps, as well as that they reach the same or better results than specialized professional treatments. 

The role of staff, as well as assertive connecting of persons under recovery with the named support groups is of particular importance, while they are being treated in public institutions, while they are on detox programs or at methadone centers. 

Scientific evidence that after 5 years of sustainable recovery a person reaches so-called stable recovery were presented. Within the stable recovery risk percentage for recidivism lowers to 15%, which is the same level of risk noted for general population that have never had any drug addiction problem. The first year when person established recovery, according to this classification, is named early recovery. 

Participants had the opportunity – apart from numerous workshops that dealt with the ongoing topics, hear something about the world trends in the field of drug policies that were presented by renowned experts. 

After the Forum, the official document “Conclusions, recommendations and proposal of strategic measures of the First Regional Drug Addiction and Recovery Forum”, which will help all the participants in further work. The Forum itself was evaluated as a very successful one bu all participants, with a wish for more similar forums.