UNODC and partners from South Eastern Europe unite in the efforts to prevent drug use

14 March 2017, Vienna, Austria: On the occasion of the 60 th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), UNODC organised a special side event on prevention of drug use articulated in two back to back panels.

The first panel was entitled "New Initiative in Prevention: Strengthening the Global Prevention Response" co-sponsored by the governments of Singapore, France and Norway, the UNODC Justice Section and the Vienna and New York NGO Committees.

The second panel was entitled "Schools as Valuable Social Institutions for Prevention and to Build Socio-emotional Skills" and it was co-organised with Lions Clubs International Foundation and co-sponsored by the Governments of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, as well as UNESCO and the Vienna and New York NGO Committees.

This special event was opened by the Chair of the 60 th session of the CND and UNODC deputy Executive Director in presence of over 150 senior and expert level representatives of different governmental and non-governmental delegations to the CND.

The panel on schools featured the collaboration between UNODC and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF), particularly in adapting and piloting Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence (LQSFA) in South East Europe. LQSFA is a programme that focuses on strengthening socio-emotional skills in youth aged 12-15 years. The programme is in line with UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention.

 

The panel podium covered interventions from UNODC and LCIF as well as from delegations from South Eastern Europe highlighting:

  • the positive value and impact of the programme that has been piloted on 5,000 students (intervention and comparison groups), so far, in over 80 elementary schools from Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro, showing a significant impact on substance use initiation (alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana), as well as skills to refuse and to challenge the normative belief and to alter the perception of harm of these 3 substances;
  • the plans of expansion of this initiative to cover during the coming year Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina;
  • the high level of satisfaction and affinity on the positive and added value of the programme on the ongoing positive expansion and strengthening of evidence based prevention interventions in South Eastern Europe.

As schools are one of the most common, and one of the most effective, settings for prevention (including substance use prevention), applying evidence based prevention in schools carries several benefits. On the one hand, preventing substance use tackles a serious threat to well-functioning schools and, on the other hand, evidence based prevention that addresses vulnerabilities linked to substance use initiation, leads to the improved academic performance and functioning of the schools in general (over and beyond preventing substance use).

This experience in South Eastern Europe was presented as an exemplary model for other countries to follow, particularly within the context of the recently developed UNODC-WHO-UNESCO guidance document on prevention for the education sector entitled "Education sector responses to the Use of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs" that was presented during the event, and on the same podium by UNESCO.