Updating international standards for the prevention of drug consumption

International Standards on Drug Use PreventionThe United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have just published a new volume to update international standards for the prevention of drug consumption published in 2013. It aims to incorporate the results of recent research on the issue and adapt it to the United Nations objectives in this field with a view to 2030 (more specifically, objective 3.5).

The objectives of these standards is, fundamentally, the primary prevention of drug consumption; meaning that it addresses the whole population and not only those who are at special risk or who are already consumers. However, the document starts by stressing the importance that research has given to fact that the first years of a person’s life are important as far as favouring or deterring the consumption of illegal drugs is concerned. Consequently, it dedicates special attention to the measures to be taken during childhood and adolescence.

The standards gather experiences (interventions, policies and strategies) that have been carried out and that have shown, with a somewhat empirical base, positive results. The measures are classified in accordance with age brackets (pregnancy and early childhood, childhood, early adolescence, adolescence, adolescent adult and adult). The experiences gathered are directed in a double way:

  • Enhance individual skills that facilitate people’s resistance to drug consumption. Information about the effects of the drugs, addressing psychological problems that could favour their control, parent-child relationships that could lead to a normal maturing process (experiences aimed at the training of parents have a noteworthy presence). The philosophy is to facilitate a balanced growth and promote a healthy lifestyle (for this reason, experiences are gathered that have promoted sports activities among the young).
  • Social factors, with a lot of emphasis on the school, university and work environment. The idea is that the context within which one relates with others and develops intellectually or socially is a determining factor in promoting or avoiding drug consumption.

Other experiences are also mentioned aimed at preventing or eradicating the consumption of cigarettes, alcohol and medical drugs used inappropriately, as this is considered to be a perfect context to encourage the use of other drugs.

Among the necessary prerequisites the document stresses to construct stable and solid systems of prevention are the need to involve a wide range of actors, an increase in research and follow up with scientific results.

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