Our mission, vision and objectives

Mainline's mission is to promote health and fulfill the human rights of people who use drugs:

without a primary focus on the reduction of drug use and with respect for the individual drug user's freedom of choice and capabilities.


All of Mainline’s activities are carried out in the interests of harm reduction.

Harm reduction offers people the chance to control their use of drugs and take back their own lives within realistic boundaries. Harm reduction thus restores human dignity and increases quality of life for people who use drugs.

Reason to be

Mainline’s context analysis

  • Drug use is a reality worldwide.

  • On paper, people who use drugs have the same universal rights as other people.

  • In reality, people who use drugs are frequently seen as morally weak, criminal or sick.

    > As reflected in public policy, the approach to drug users as criminals causes people who use drugs to suffer from stigmatisation, isolation, violence, discrimination and various violations of their basic human rights.

    > The paradigm of the "disease model," which is based on a model in which drug “addiction” is seen as a symptom of illness, offers the advantage that the individual is not seen as immoral but still has the drawback that the individual risks becoming a powerless patient.

  • New studies are supporting a (very) slow change to the disease model: An increasing number of studies explain chronic drug use as a consequence of normal brain processes and take into account social factors affecting problematic drug use to a greater extent than earlier studies. These insights have not been widely acknowledged or applied in practice.

  • Various countries are taking steps to legalise cannabis. However, an intelligent discussion among the current international powers regarding the regulation of other psychoactive drugs has come to a standstill despite the increasing awareness that the war on drugs has been lost.

Reason to be

Mainline's niche

  • Very often (international) policy is focused on the achievement of a drug-free world. In Mainline’s view, this is utopian thinking—and it marginalises people who use drugs and contributes to violent crime associated with the illegal drug trade.

  • Given the status quo, people who use drugs are vulnerable to infectious viruses such as HIV and HCV, overdoses, and other threats to their health.

  • Harm reduction is a scientifically supported and cost-effective method that, to a great extent, is able to prevent the negative effects on health as a result of drug use.

  • Globally, harm reduction is minimally implemented and hindered by serious funding shortages, particularly because of a lack of political will. Harm reduction is hardly used for (new) groups of users of non-opiates.

  • Drug trends follow each other in rapid succession and can appear locally and/or globally (individually or together) as a result of the Internet and increased mobility (glocalisation). Together with the fact that the use is occurring, to a greater extent, behind closed doors, this is making groups of users less visible and more difficult to reach.

  • A strong voice speaking for drug users themselves and defending their interests is absent.

Core values

The experiences and motivations of people who use drugs and the contexts in which drug use takes place constitute the point of departure for Mainline’s actions. Furthermore, Mainline works on the basis of the following norms and values:

• Non-moralising
• Evidence-based
• People-centred
• Authentic - creative and free-thinking
• Pragmatic - we get to work
• Activist


  • Mainline defines all psychoactive substances as drugs but is particularly focused on illegal substances because of their relationship with criminalisation and social marginalisation.

  • Mainline defines harm reduction as "policies, interventions and practices that aim primarily to reduce the adverse health, social and economic consequences of the use of legal and illegal psychoactive drugs without necessarily reducing drug consumption. Harm reduction benefits people who use drugs, their families and the community" (International Harm Reduction Network, 2016).


Offering and implementing harm reduction interventions

Mainline achieves this by:

  • Actively seeking out people who use drugs via fieldwork (outreach work) and peer networks.

  • Identifying and investigating new trends and health risks among various user groups.

  • Developing new interventions to promote the health of people who use drugs.

Promoting the human rights of people who use drugs

Mainline achieves this by:

  • Supporting drug users claim their basic rights.

  • Helping people who use drugs create self-support organisations.

  • Functioning as a liaison between drug users and "professionals".

Supporting and promoting harm reduction as a method and as a broad mindset

Mainline achieves this by:

  • Expanding the worldwide availability of harm reduction by financing local organisations in various countries and training individuals in the provision of harm reduction interventions.

  • Organising a holistic and broad continuum of care for people who use drugs. While doing this, it is necessary to take into account all stages of drug use, the human being as a whole and the environment.

  • Monitoring the field.

  • On the basis of good practice, contributing to a change in the existing paradigms of drug use and incorporating harm reduction into policy.

  • Good health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not simply the absence of diseases or other bodily deficiencies (WHO definition).

  • Human rights refer to the universal human rights: rights and freedoms that should be enjoyed by every human being and should not be questioned.

  • Mainline is primarily focused on people who experience problems in various areas of their lives in connection with their drug use—either as a result of individual or social circumstances—and for this reason are (or are in danger of) becoming socially marginalised and/or people who run (serious) health risks due to drug use that could have effects on public health. 

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