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  • Writer's pictureThe Paladins

The Belgrade Drug Policy Clinic

No city in Europe needs a means tested drug rehabilitation clinic as badly as Belgrade. There is a pandemic explosion in the use of recreational narcotics that has lasted several years and shows no signs of abating. The police are no use because they take a cut of drug sale proceeds in extortion rackets. The doctors are no good because Belgrade's small community of psychiatrists generally refuse to recognise drug addiction as a mental health concern but just as the product of some inchoate decadence. In such an environment, drugs and drug addiction are not talked about and drug problems continue festering, untreated, for years. There is no non-judgmental environment to which a person with a drugs problem can turn.

There is also a severe deficit of information amongst the population of the effects of different sorts of drugs and the damage they can do to the body and mind. Very few Belgrade drug users (and to repeat, that is a massive proportion of the population, perhaps 50 per cent of young people within a certain age category) understand that amphetamines are far more harmful than MDMA. There simply is no knowledge.

Background articles and materials

It is to address these problems that the Belgrade Drug Policy Clinic was conceived. A number of the ideas underlying this conception were published earlier, in the following articles:

The legal purposes of the Belgrade Drug Policy Clinic

The Belgrade Drug Policy Clinic is to be established as an entity under Serbian law not intended to make a profit but instead to work for the greater public good, with the following purposes:

  1. To provide residential rehabilitation treatment to those voluntarily seeking such treatment, on a scale of charges consistent with its status as a charitable organisation that depends upon the means of the patient and his family to pay.

  2. To provide a point of contact and offering a free non-judgmental meeting with a drug rehabilitation specialist, to any person who may consider they have a drugs problem and wishes to discuss it with an expert in circumstances of total confidence.

  3. To publish freely on the internet and in other media sources and in other lawful places important information about drug use, in places where persons consuming drugs are likely to have access to it; including advertising the services of the Clinic.

  4. To research and publish from time to time in a variety of media and in other lawful places up to date information about risks associated with certain drugs; 'bad batches'; and other information it would be in the public interest to circulate having regard to the high usage rates for drugs in Belgrade.

  5. To acquire such interests in real property in Belgrade as the Clinic may see fit; to furnish the same; and to hire appropriate persons to work in said premises, so as to carry out the purposes of the Clinic and in particular to provide on-site residential rehabilitation programmes.

  6. To main cordial and constructive relations with all branches of the Serbian government in pursuit of the Clinic's purposes, including from time to time inviting the government to participate financially or in other ways or both towards the activities of the Clinic, always having regard to the overwhelming obligation of privacy and secrecy towards the Clinic's patients and their presumed universal desire that no information about them is supplied to government.

  7. Once established pursuant to an initial endowment, to maintain itself as a going concern not requiring further capital injections in order to continue operating on a 'going concern' basis.

Important Clinic regulations

Please note the following points:

  1. The first meeting is always free.

  2. Treatment in residence (the Clinic will not treat outpatients; its inpatient courses will be short and effective), while means tested, will always involve a charge. The Clinic's view will be that if a person can afford drugs then they can afford the Clinic's fees, payment of which in advance is a necessary index of good faith by the patient.

  3. Although we can offer opinions about whether the law should be changed for the better, we cannot campaign for changes in the law in the sense of getting involved in Serbian politics as represented by her electoral institutions.

  4. We will welcome any patient who is a resident of one of the countries formerly comprising Yugoslavia who arrive at our doors, providing they exhibit the requisite willingness to pay and be treated. Persons providing identity documentation issued by the de facto authorities of the Republic of Kosovo, unrecognised by Serbia, are included. They will be treated. We will insist upon agreeable peace and harmony between all resident patients irrespective of nationality or ethnic background.

  5. Please note that we are not a political institution and therefore we do not take positions on political issues of any kind. We respectfully insist that nobody in our premises expresses political opinions that may cause offence to another person in the premises. This rule will be enforced by immediate expulsion without refund.

  6. In all cases we have absolute discretion as to whether to admit a patient seeking residential admission, for any reason or for none.

  7. We will consider patients from areas outside the former Yugoslavia on a case-by-case basis.

  8. The fees associated with inpatient treatment will be used to subsidise the public information and research aspects of the Clinic's operation and to maintain the building and pay ataff, and other such legitimate expenditures.

  9. Both tobacco and alcohol are designated as drugs by the Clinic and in principle are banned. However in the event that a patient wishes to undergo drug rehabilitation but to continue while resident to consume cigarettes or alcohol we may in our exclusive discretion make tailored arrangements for the continued use of those substances in limited qualities during the period of stay (or we may refuse to do so in any individual case).

  10. The Clinic anticipates cooperating with one or more private hospitals or other private medical facilities in Belgrade to hire their expertise to treat the Clinic's patients, wherever that seems appropriate to us.

  11. We will never provide the Police or any other Serbian (or foreign) government institution with details of our patients, save pursuant to a final judicial order of a court of competent jurisdiction which litigation will almost invariably be pursued to the last and highest possible instance in defence of patients' rights.

  12. We insist that no drugs are brought into the Clinic. Patients may be searched randomly or otherwise. Anyone caught with drugs on Clinic premises will be required to leave immediately without refund.

  13. To prevent the proliferation of drugs on the Clinic's premises, a strict system of oversight and, where deemed appropriate, temporary seizure of electronic communication devices shall be in operation.

  14. A typical period of rehabilitation will be between 48 hours and 21 days, depending on the circumstances. Stays beyond 21 days are not anticipated.

  15. Upon entering the Clinic as a patient a person will be required to sign a piece of paper agreeing to comply with the Clinic's regulations the most important of which is that they do not leave during the period of treatment. Nobody will be locked in; but resident patients who depart the premises without permission of the Director during the period of their stay will have their course of treatment terminated with no refund and they will not be allowed back on Clinic premises.

  16. As part of the fees they are paying patients will be accommodated comfortably in single beds, provided with adequate and we hope tasty nourishment, and will be provided with means of entertainment and passing the time including books, television, exercise facilities and internet usage (save where we consider it appropriate to deny internet usage for a period).

  17. Where patients have legal problems we will help coordinate their legal representation with competent and trustworthy Belgrade counsel but we will not be responsible for the fees of legal counsel.

  18. Staff will be expected to operate to the highest ethical standards. Should they fall below those standards they will be immediately dismissed - on zero notice and for cause. Staff will be expected to submit to periodic review, not less than every three months. The very highest standards of professionalism must be implemented and maintained without falter.

  19. All staff and inpatients must sign permanently binding legal documentation not to reveal any details whatsoever (not limited to their identities) that they may acquire about any inmate in the course of their attendance at the clinic, whatever that role may be. The same documentation must likewise be signed by contractors coming into the building to work on it. And that documentation will be signed by the Director herself, and by the shareholder.

Practical details

Date of opening: 2023

Location: TBD in consultations with government representatives

Fee scale for residential inpatients: a range of daily rates will be enacted, at one end of the scale for the most indigent of patients and at the other end for the wealthier patients. Daily fee rates will be charged on a 'where you rest head your basis' and will be capped so that the extremely wealthy do not find themselves paying grossly disproportionate amounts. That would be inconsistent with the egalitarian ethos of the clinic.

Typical inpatient periods: (nothing is guaranteed):

  1. 48 to 72 hours (cocaine addiction)

  2. 72 to-96 hours (crack cocaine addiction)

  3. 10 days (alcoholism)

  4. Seven days (severe cigarette addiction)

  5. Four to five days (amphetamine addiction)

  6. Four hours (MDMA overdose)

  7. Twelve hours (adverse reaction to LSD or magic mushrooms (psilocybin))

  8. One to three weeks (heroin addiction, depending upon severity and willpower of the patient)

Further information

Further information will be provided on this webpage in due course. Or you may email us at Please state so if you wish your communication to be treated in confidence.


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