Over the last 15 years, substance use has been a steadily growing phenomenon in Lebanon. Organizations dedicated to services for substance users have increased in number and size. Narcotics law was revised in 1998 to bring drug dependence toward the realm of a social and health problem.
However, tackling substance dependence through treatment instead of punishment is still one of the most critical issues in Lebanon. In 2008, Skoun Lebanese Addiction Center, a grantee of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program, launched the project "For a Greater Respect for the Rights of Drug Addicts" to analyze why the 1998 law is still scarcely applied, working with the police force and judicial system to sensitize them on the nature of drug dependence and effectiveness of treatment versus incarceration.
Following this, work has begun with many judges and NGOs representatives to create a referral system from the courts to service providers to pilot and evaluate the effectiveness of court referrals and mandated treatment. With the support of MedNET-Pompidou Group and in partnership with dedicated NGOs—AJEM, JCD, SIDC, Nusroto Cenacle du fils de l’Homme, Bonheur du Ciel—Skoun also initiated its advocacy work in 2010 through its “Filling the Gap: Meeting the Needs for Treatment and Treatment Centers in Lebanon” project. One result of this work is a Situational Needs Assessment report for drug policy in Lebanon, which is available, along with an executive summary, for download.