International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy

2.1 Interventions for women who use drugs

Women who use drugs have the right to access health care, including sexual and reproductive care, on a non- discriminatory basis.

In accordance with this right, States should:

i. Take all necessary legislative, administrative, and policy measures to ensure the availability of and non-discriminatory access to good-quality gender-sensitive prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and other health care services for women who use drugs, including opioid substitution treatment for pregnant women, tailored to meet women’s specific needs.

ii. Ensure that these services take into account the needs of lone or primary caretakers of children and other family members.

iii. Ensure that a woman’s drug use or dependency is never the sole justification for removing a child from her care or preventing reunification with her child, as this may deter access to necessary drug-related health care services and prejudice the woman’s right to family life and the child’s right to remain in the care and custody of their parents.

iv. Take immediate steps to end the detention and punishment of women as a result of their drug use during pregnancy.

v. End any practice amounting to involuntary sterilisation or abortion on grounds of drug use.

vi. Take all necessary legislative, administrative, and policy measures to ensure that voluntary, informed consent is a precondition for any medical treatment or diagnostic intervention for women and that drug use or dependence alone are not grounds for detention or to deprive a woman of the right to withhold consent.

vii. Take all necessary legislative, administrative, and policy measures to prevent and redress violence against women who use drugs and to provide care for such women.

In addition, States may:

viii.Utilise the available flexibilities in the UN drug control conventions to decriminalise the possession, purchase, or cultivation of controlled substances for personal consumption as an important step towards fulfilling women’s right to health.


Our extensive Commentary and References will be coming soon. 1 You will be able to easily access the references cited in the Commentary by clicking on the blue reference number. We will be making an announcement as the Commentary and References are published.