The founders of the IIHE have targeted drug policy and drug treatment policy reform in Turkey. The creation of a LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program in Istanbul has changed the way drug users are handled in the criminal justice system by removing them from it entirely. Instead of immediate incarceration, drug users found by police are diverted to existing treatment services. This is beneficial because drug users who spend time in prison have an increased rate of recidivism.
In conjunction with this reform, the founders of the IIHE also pursued projects to reform drug treatment policy in Turkey; specifically the goal was to move from in-patient treatment of drug addiction to outpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment has been clinically proven to be more effective for drug users than in-patient treatment. While there was some resistance from hospitals because of the treatment monopoly, the program was successful.
The first project supported the reform of drug policy by studying problems drug users have in gaining access to treatment services. The results of this study were delivered to the Turkish government, in support of the formation of a national strategic plan of action regarding drugs, drug use, and addiction.
The second supported existing community-based outpatient drug treatment centers by providing more resources that are necessary to meet Turkey’s substance abuse treatment needs. In addition to closing funding gaps for existing centers, the Institute created community-based programs that focused on education and training health professionals throughout Turkey on the treatment of substance abus