The Dutch have a tradition of tolerance and pragmatism in the fields of social policy, and nowhere is this better illustrated than in their policy and practice in the field of drug misuse. Indeed often exaggerated accounts of Dutch ‘liberalism’ are promulgated, and articles in the press have suggested a backlash is now occurring in Holland to these ‘progressive’ policies (Williams, 1989). The award of a Council of Europe Fellowship gave me the opportunity to spend two weeks in the Netherlands in October 1989, visiting drug services and talking to a wide range of people with responsibilities for such services. I was particularly interested to see how the Dutch were responding to the challenges of HIV infection in drug users (Fleming, 1989).
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