National Register for alcoholics and drug addicts

Belgium is to introduce a national registration system that will register all alcoholics and drug addicts. The government is responding to pressure from the European Union.

It's hard to say how many people are addicted to alcohol and drugs in this country. It's estimated that some half a million people are addicted to alcohol; while a further 20,000 people are drug addicts.

The new registration system is being developed by the Scientific Institute for Public Health. The registration will occur on the basis of anonymity and all data will be protected.

The data should provide more information about addicts and allow the authorities to adapt government policy, if need be.

Marijs Geirnaert of the VAD, the Association for Alcohol and Drug Problems says: "The aim is that all aid centres that meet people who have a problem collect information in the same way." The VAD too is taking part in the project.

The register will collect information about addicts' age, education levels, employment, housing, family situation and earlier interventions. Over 50 recognised centres, hospitals and other bodies will help to collect the information."