The ins and outs of drugs, contact with drug users, harm reduction and drug policy

Mainline supports organisations worldwide who are working with people who use drugs. We foster long-term relationships with local organisations. But we also offer trainings, workshops and individual instruction and coaching.

Are you a professional who works with drugs users?

Mainline is the right partner for you!
Drugs users often live in the margins of society, and are not easy to reach. How do you make initial contact? How do you approach the subject of drug use with local authorities and policy makers? And how can you improve the human rights of people who use drugs?

Mainline has decades of experience working alongside both drug users and civil society.

Harm Reduction and healthier drug use
The trainings we offer are practical, versatile and based upon harm reduction. Central to this pragmatic approach is the improvement of the health, quality of life and living conditions of substance users, without imposing moral pressure on them.

Let there be no misunderstanding!
Mainline does not promote the use of drugs, nor do we involve ourselves in the global debate around the legalisation of drugs. We are convinced that a drug- free world is a utopian concept.

Our approach is therefore pragmatic in nature: if you’re using drugs, do it in the safest and least harmful way possible.

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Why choose Mainline?

: Mainline is one of the founders of harm reduction in the Netherlands and has over 15 years of experience in providing training worldwide.

Integral: alongside harm reduction, we also focus on poverty, stigma, family relationships, marginalisation and the choices/needs of substance users in different stages of their lives.

Practical: through intensive field work, contact with users and relationships with local organisations, we know what is happening in the streets.

Self-reliance: we assist substance users and our local partners in becoming self-reliant.

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Developments, trends in the area of drug use and health. Keep informed about our projects and training courses abroad.


For everyone: we make no distinction between culture, religion, race, sexual orientation or gender.

Customised: we respect the culturally specific setting and take into account local conditions, sensitivities and limitations. In close consultation with our partners we identify training goals and the most appropriate form of service delivery.

Realistic: drug use is a social phenomenon and a drug-free world is a utopian concept.


If you have questions about training needs, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to discuss the possibilities with you.

Mail: or 

Call: +31 (0)20 682 26 60 and ask for Simon Williams, trainer international

Our training projects

1. Harm reduction: from practice to mindset

In this training, Mainline addresses an important aspect connected to harm reduction: how to adopt a constructive attitude in approaching substance users.

Mainline is one of the founders of harm reduction. Harm reduction is a proven exceptionally successful method of improving the health of substance users and is increasingly embraced by international organisations, including the WHO (World Health Organisation).

The best-known examples of harm reduction strategies are needle exchange and opioid substitution (e.g. methadone) programmes.

> Read more

4. Contact with people who use drugs and communication skills

A training about communication skills that can help to ensure an effective contact with substance users.

Who is your client? How do you initiate contact? What motivates him/her? What are their personal needs? It’s vital to understand the experience of a person who uses drugs.

In this training we take a close look at the world of drug users using discussions, videos and presentations and by sharing first- and second- hand experiences.

Operating from the principle of ‘listen, learn and match resources to needs’, you’ll learn ways of connecting with substance users to ensure that the assistance and support offered is consistent with the client’s wishes.

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7. How to change behaviour

Changing behaviour or habits is never easy. It takes time, energy and is often a lengthy process. Change happens in stages and in small increments. Motivational interviewing techniques can aid in achieving sustainable change.

Motivational interviewing is a method in which you stimulate the personal motivation of the other person. Behavioural change comes from within, so rather than imposing rules or directing someone, you put them in the driver’s seat and invite them to take the steps necessary to meet their goals.

In this training you learn to conduct motivational interviews within your own work environment. How do you confront someone about their behaviour? How can you set and reach common goals?

> Read more

10. Human rights

In this training you will be given the tools needed to empower yourself and the people who use drugs in your area. Substance users are often denied access to medical care and legal assistance. Violence against them is commonplace.

  • How do you build a network that aims to strengthen the rights of people who use drugs?
  • How do you deal with the police?
  • And how do you document violence and human rights violations?

Mainline works with local organisations around the world at both the street and policy level. Linking local organisations, human rights organisations

> Read more

2. Drugs

In this training, we link drugs, the person using drugs and the environment in which the drugs are being used.

In every culture and all around the world, drugs are used. But which are currently the most popular drugs? What are the trends? What effects do they have, how are they used and what risks do they pose?

Mainline is streetwise and gives honest information, practical tips and advice about safer drug use. Therefore, local conditions are our starting point.

> Read more

5. What to do in case of overdose and other health questions?

What are the effects and risks of different drugs? In this training, the emphasis is on preventing overdose. Our primary focus is on heroin, but we also pay attention alcohol or stimulants such as cocaine.

After this training you’ll be able to prevent or identify an overdose, act appropriately and use life-saving tools such as naloxone in an emergency.

Tips, tricks and knowledge

No matter if you’re an outreach worker, a peer or helping professional: it’s important to know how to react to health questions and medical emergencies.

> Read more

8. Double diagnoses

In this training, we provide tools and insight which will assist in giving better support to people with a comorbid psychiatric condition. Respect for the individual is central in our approach.

Many people who use drugs also have psychological issues such as anxiety disorders, depression or ADHD.

> Read more

11. Specialised trainings

Mainline also offers specialised trainings for organisations looking to implement harm reduction programmes, like personnel planning, work methods, logistics, finance and procurement (for example acquiring clean syringes).

Here are some examples:

Mapping: learn how to map where substance users commonly go so you can consistently come into contact with them.

Establish harm reduction: learn to work from a harm reduction perspective – from guiding your team, to ensuring team safety, to arranging transportation, procuring needles and ensuring you have traction in your community.

> Read more

3. Drugs & sex: the pros and cons

Why are drugs and sex so often combined? What are the effects and risks of commonly used substances on sexual practices? Why do sex workers often use drugs?

In this training, we openly discuss the taboos around sex and drugs. We bring into focus our own norms and values: how do you put aside your own convictions in order to openly discuss sex and substance use?

Another topic for discussion are sexually transmitted diseases. Can you contract hepatitis by having unprotected sex? Can you transfer HIV if you’re using ARVs? And is bare-sex safe if you’re both HIV-negative?

> Read more

6. Methadone and other opioid substitutes

This training offers straight- forward explanations and a realistic perspective on methadone usage. Especially useful when OST is newly introduced in a country.

In many countries, access to opioid substitutes such as methadone and buprenorphine is difficult to impossible.

But opioid substitution therapy (OST) is a proven effective element of the harm reduction package. It greatly reduces or eliminates the need to inject, bringing down the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis.

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9. Stigma

In this course, we take an honest look at self-stigma, external stigma, and organisational norms/values. After the training you will have the tools needed to break free from prejudice.

  • What is it like to be routinely dismissed as an addict or junkie?
  • What does this do to your self-esteem?
  • How do you deal with being excluded from society?
  • How do you stand up for your rights if you use drugs?
  • Some users devalue other users as junkies; where do these mutual prejudices come from?

> Read more
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