Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen e.V. (DHS), German Centre for Addiction Issues
The German Centre for Addiction Issues (Deutsche Hauptstelle für Suchtfragen - DHS) was founded in 1947 as a common platform for all German charitable associations in the field of addiction counselling, treatment and self-help. Except for private organizations and the anonymous self-help project Anonymous Self-Help (Anonyme Selbsthilfe), all umbrella organizations of outpatient counselling and treatment, in-patient care and self-help are members of the DHS. The work of the DHS is supported by the Federal Ministry of Health.
Objectives and aims: The DHS aims to inform people about addiction-related problems, advise them and draw their attention to support provision. One of the primary tasks of the DHS is the promotion of advances in the field of secondary prevention. The DHS coordinates the professional work of associations active in addiction counselling and treatment and promotes constant qualitative development.
As an umbrella organization, it initiates negotiations and cooperative efforts between federal ministries and departments, as well as with non-governmental payers and players, such as the federal associations of health insurance and pensions plan companies.
The headquarters also selects topics within the field of addiction and dependency, instigates specialist and political debates, issues position statements, develops guidelines and framework concepts and holds specialist conferences and meetings on topical issues. The aims are to promote exchange between experts and those directly affected, as well as to publicise the issues of dependency and substance-related disorders. Beyond that, we aim to contribute to shaping public opinion while raising awareness of problems among the general public and decision-makers.
Structure: The DHS is chaired by a board of directors representing charitable associations, professional associations, research institutes, self-help organisations and other representatives of the civil society. The board consists of 18 members entitled to vote. They are elected for 4 years by the general assembly. The chairman of the board represents the DHS in judicial and extrajudicial issues.
Main tasks of the board are:
a) Supervise the work of the DHS according to the decisions of the general assembly.
b) Define the annual work programme, prepare the budget and the staff appointment scheme, draw up the annual report and the annual account to be presented to the general assembly.
c) Appoint the managing director and draw up the rules of internal procedure
d) Convene ad hoc committees.
The tasks of the general assembly are primarily:
a) Define the basic principles and guidelines of the work
b) Accept the activity report, the statement of accounts, and the auditors report, as well as discharge the board members for the financial year.
c) Elect the board members
d) Determine the rate of the annual contribution
e) Convene expert committees
The DHS employs 16 full or part time staff members in 4 departments and several national and international projects. The departments are:
- Policy Issues
- Public relations and prevention
- Aftercare and self-help
- International cooperation
The Scientific Board of the DHS has the task of providing continuous advice, promoting and monitoring the work of the DHS and in particular initiating and helping to shape the corresponding scientific work of the organisation.
The DHS expert committees tackle underlying and topical problems in the field of addiction, addiction relief and addiction prevention. They work out proposals for solving such problems. The committees provide fundamental impulses for further developments and for maintaining and improving standards in addiction relief and addiction prevention.
Main activities: The headquarters of the DHS is both a specialist centre and a coordinating office. It is the point of contact for everyone interested in the issues of addiction prevention, counselling, treatment and self-help or for those wishing to enter into cooperative arrangements.
National focus points in recent years have been "Young People and Addiction," "Age and Addiction," "Medicament Dependency“ and "Alcohol Dependency Week." In international projects and at European level, alcohol is also a chief focus of project work. As a member of a European alcohol policy network, DHS is advocating for a comprehensive alcohol policy with clear objectives and targets, combining behavioural and structural approaches.
In the field of tobacco prevention, DHS has been active for a long time. Since 1998, it has been member of the Alliance for Non-Smoking / Coalition against Smoking (Aktionsbündnis Nichtrauchen). It supports a number of structural policy changes such as continued tax increases on tobacco products, restrictions on advertising, school prevention programmes and insurance-subsidized therapies.
Articles and Publications: The DHS library is the most comprehensive specialist library on addiction issues in the German language. It currently contains around 32,000 monographs, articles from specialist periodicals, academic papers and what's known as grey literature (dating back to 1885). The complete database covering the full contents of the library is accessible via the Internet and is available for individual research. As a special service, the library offers 30 up-to-date bibliographies on frequently requested subjects.
Furthermore, DHS issues its own periodical, brochures and other publications on various aspects of addiction and the relevant support provision: addictive drugs, addictive substance consumption, substance-related disorders, dependency, counselling and treatment provision, self-help.
The information provided is aimed at consumers, people with substance-related disorders and their relatives. The DHS also publishes specialist materials for professional and voluntary workers in the addiction field and in related areas of activity such as health, youth or social work. The list of publications is available on the DHS-website: www.dhs.de
Events we organise: In addition to the annual main conference on addiction, DHS is realizing several symposia, conventions and workshops for specialist areas. In 2007 the first addiction awareness week was organised in cooperation with the German Drug Commissioner and the Federal Centre for Health Education.
In recent years the DHS has launched a campaign focused on young people and addiction with the motto way out.de. The existing counselling and treatment system as well as the public in general were sensitized to the growing addiction problems among young people. New methods and communication channels like the internet were used. The campaign was coordinated with the drug action plan and other initiatives of the Ministry of Health.
In 2008 DHS will work over the Alcohol Action Plan. It will be available on the DHS website.