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European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. (2023) Prevention toolkit.

External website: https://www.emcdda.europa.eu/toolkit/prevention-to...

The EMCDDA Prevention toolkit brings together useful tools and resources for anyone involved in shaping decisions, opinions and policies in Europe in the science-based prevention of substance use. The toolkit also provides links to useful resources, including an introduction to basic prevention concepts and forms.

The toolkit is centred around four key existing prevention resources, all brought together in a one-stop-shop for easy access:

  • European Prevention Curriculum (EUPC) — a training programme designed to professionalise those working in the field of prevention.
  • Xchange prevention registry — an online registry of evaluated prevention interventions.
  • Best practice evidence database — a repository of the latest evidence on drug-related interventions, including prevention.
  • Healthy Nightlife Toolkit — an international initiative focusing on the reduction of harm from alcohol and drug use among young people in the nightlife setting.

Inscriptions are open in PLATO — the EMCDDA’s e-learning platform and virtual community of practice — for the next online training in the EUPC basic modules. These are targeted at people with the ability (or motivation) to influence the development of prevention systems and prevention culture in their community.

‘Prevention has more to do with positive child and adolescent development rather than with talking adolescents out of drugs’

Prevention is evidence-based socialisation, that is, a process of transferring culturally acceptable attitudes, norms, beliefs and behaviours so that young people are enabled to respond to cues in an appropriate manner with adequate impulse control. The aim is not solely to prevent substance use, but also to delay its onset, reduce its intensification or prevent its escalation into problem use. By also designing environments in a way that the physiological risk-taking behaviour of young people does not harm them, it conceptually shares many of the objectives of harm reduction and is not its opposite.

The common view of drug prevention, particularly among lay audiences, is that it consists of informing (generally warning) young people about the effects (most commonly the dangers) of drug use. Prevention is then often equated with (mass media) warning campaigns. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the sole provision of information on drug effects has an impact on drug use behaviour, or that mass media warning campaigns are beneficial for all.

In reality, the challenge of drug prevention lies in helping young people to adjust their behaviour, capacities, and well-being in fields of multiple influences such as environmental stimuli, social norms, interaction with peers, living conditions, and their own personality traits. This view is also reflected in modern prevention approaches which aim to reduce risk behaviours related to substances.

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