Initiatives for Sub-Working Group 3.1 - Preventing Drug Use, Strengthen and expand evidence-based prevention activities

Review of National Drug Prevention Systems (RePS) to Align with International Standards

UNODC’s Review of Prevention Systems (RePS) tool assists countries in assessing how closely their national or sub-national (e.g., provincial, municipal) drug use prevention system aligns with the UNODC/WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention with the aim of identifying areas of strength and weakness to allow improvement. The information gathered through the implementation of the RePS tool assesses the quality of interventions being implemented by age, level of risk, and the setting of the implementation. Analysis is conducted at both the national and regional level, making results relevant to policy makers and practitioners at all levels. The holistic review of the prevention system aims to identify effective prevention interventions, supportive policy frameworks, encourage the use of evidence-based planning and research, improve coordination among different sectors and levels, and promote sustainability.


Children Amplified Prevention Systems (CHAMPS)

The CHAMPS initiative (Children Amplified Prevention Services) aims to demonstrate the value of amplifying evidence-based prevention services in building the resilience of children from birth to adolescence to prevent the use of drugs and other psychoactive substances.

The amplification is by building model systems bringing series of evidence-based interventions and strategies to all children (<18 years) in a geographic region tailored to age and level of risk and by intensifying partnerships between agents of the response. Model systems will be implemented over 5 years in 10 countries per wave, anticipating multiple waves of interest.


Build Resilience through Family Skills Training

Evidence-based family skills training is one of the most effective ways to prevent substance use among children and adolescents. These programs support caregivers to be better parents and help children develop the skills to make healthy decisions, leading to improved communication and interpersonal relationships. Family units come together at the end of each session to practice new skills together. These cost-effective programs have multiple positive outcomes for children and adolescents. Including decreased alcohol and drug use, decreased child depression and aggression, decreased family conflict, increased child attachment to school and academic performance, and increased child social competence and pro-social behavior.

Family United is a universal family skills program intended for low- and middle-income countries. During implementation, UNODC found that caregiving in stressful settings raises particular concerns that need to be addressed. This resulted in the creation of Strong Families, which is a selective family skills program to improve parenting, family resilience, and child well-being and mental health.


Law Enforcement and Drug Use Prevention in Schools

UNODC with the support of US INL developed a guiding document on the role of Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) on drug use prevention in schools. This guiding document aims to improve the effectiveness of pre-existing and ongoing work of LEOs involved in substance use prevention in schools. It incites LEO to re-assess their mode of operation and align their work with what the science of prevention and better integrate LEO in the larger systems of prevention to optimize the effectiveness of this prevention system.  


Planet Youth Guidance Program

Iceland went from being among the highest in adolescent substance use in Europe in 1998 to being among the lowest only 15 years later, in 2013. 
Planet Youth Guidance Program was developed from the Icelandic Prevention Model – a theory-based approach with demonstrated effectiveness in reducing substance use in Iceland for over 20 years. The Planet Youth Guidance Program is designed to strengthen protective factors, mitigate risk factors, and build healthy community environments for positive youth development by focusing on key domains in the local school-community: Family, peer group, leisure (out-of-school) time, and school. 
The Planet Youth Guidance Program is a data driven population-wide primary prevention process designed to have a long-term impact in communities on reducing youth substance use by creating a healthy environment amongst youth. Planet Youth treats society as “the patient“ and believes that building a community environment that delays the onset of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs for as long as possible is an effective approach to reducing the long-term health problems related to youth substance use.  
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Developing national work plans for implementing drug use prevention programs

This initiative focuses on providing technical assistance and capacity building to OAS member states to develop a national work plan for implementing drug use prevention programs according to their assessed local needs, available resources, and context. On November 2022, CICAD implemented the first Regional Conference on the Implementation of Drug Use Prevention Policies and Programs. The goal of this conference was to build and/or strengthen the capacity of national drug commissions officials in charge of developing and implementing drug use prevention policies, strategies, and programs in OAS member states. Following this conference, each member state performed an assessment of their internal needs, resources, networks, and barriers for establishing school-, family-, and workplace prevention strategies in their territories.  


Capacity building for health professionals on cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids

Using the WHO materials on the health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use, this intervention seeks to build the capacity of health professionals to address the public health dimensions of cannabis use. 


Engaging Youth in Drug Use Prevention

The primary goal of the Engaging Youth in Prevention Training Curriculum is to foster youth leadership in drug demand reduction by empowering youth to spearhead prevention initiatives. This curriculum equips youth aged 18 to 26 with knowledge, skills, and strategies to develop and implement comprehensive action plans for prevention initiatives in their communities. Moreover, it encourages participants to collaborate with governmental bodies, civil society, and among themselves to ensure the successful development and implementation of prevention initiatives. Participatory approaches that raise the voices of youths and allow their active and meaningful participation in health promotion activities are increasingly recognized as viable and necessary for preventing health issues. The curriculum is available in English, Spanish and Portuguese. 


Training the Prevention Workforce

The Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) strengthens the capacity of professionals working in the field of drug prevention to identify gaps, develop a plan of action, and implement and evaluate evidence-based prevention policies and interventions in a variety of settings. This curriculum addresses the need for a knowledgeable and competent prevention workforce and can be disseminated throughout a country using a training of trainers approach. International organizations are able to further enhance country capacity to implement evidence-based drug use prevention programs through the support of mentors, and technical assistance for the implementation of selected family-, school-, and community-based prevention programs. 

The UPC consists of two series, one series for Managers and Supervisors who oversee the implementation of prevention interventions and/or policies and one series for practitioners who are directly responsible for the implementation of evidence-based prevention interventions. 

The UPC is available in English (all tracks), Spanish (all tracks), Portuguese (some tracks), and French (some tracks). 


Recommendations for the Development of a Three-Phase Intervention to Address the Non-Medical Use of Controlled Medicines in University Settings

This three-phase intervention is two-fold. Firstly, it will generate data on the prevalence of non-medical use of controlled medicines and risk perception amongst students in diverse areas. Not only is it important to understand the scale and nature of the issue, but such data is integral to informing subsequent interventions. The second is to build the capacity of university counselling staff to offer evidence-based prevention and treatment instruments in the form of ASSIST-linked brief intervention, and in doing so, support Member States in addressing the non-medical use of controlled medicines amongst the student demographic. 


Youth Peer to Peer Prevention [Friends in Focus]

The youth-based prevention tool, Friends in Focus, aims to equip older adolescents with the needed life and social skills to prevent drug use in younger adolescents through peer-to-peer engagement. This tool (currently in development) is rooted in by the UNODC WHO International Standards on Drug Use Prevention and is designed to be delivered by youth for youth, without daily facilitation by adults. 


Addressing the Issue of Drug Use in Media

This program provides journalists and media professionals with the tools to address issues related to drug use. The emphasis will be based on the use of images and messages that avoid the promotion of drug use, increase the perception of risk and reduce stigma, and that can promote the available alternatives for help. This project will develop a four-day training on addressing the issue of drug use in media specifically targeted at journalists since media plays a significant role in shaping public perception and attitudes towards drug-related topics. These types of trainings help journalists understand the complexities of drug use, addiction, and related issues while emphasizing responsible and accurate reporting.  


Development of postgraduate education and training of medical doctors on prevention and management of substance use disorders

Development of postgraduate education and training of medical doctors on prevention and management of substance use disorders based on WHO Guide and Core Competencies Framework for Medical Doctors Working with Substance Use Disorders (GCF-SUD) 


Comprehensive School-Based Drug Prevention Continuum

The Prevention Continuum is a school-based universal prevention strategy for reducing the use of alcohol and other drugs targeting youth throughout the entire education cycle (age 6 to 18). The goal this program is to improve social skills to strengthen protective factors and reduce the influence of risk factors associated with substance use in students at the different grades and consistently across the school system.  

In the region, few countries have implemented evidence-based prevention strategies that target students throughout the entire education spectrum: from pre-school to high-school. In that regard, this initiative will seek to expand the supply of low-cost evidence-based prevention strategies for reducing drug targeting children and youth in all levels of the school system.