Front Page International Statnards on Drug Use Prevention
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 For every dollar spent on prevention, at least ten can be saved in future health, social and crime costs.

Drug prevention is an integral part of a larger effort to ensure children and
young people are less vulnerable and more resilient.

UNODC: International Standards on Drug Use Prevention

This publication from the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is an excellent introduction to the state of the art of how to best prevent drug use and drug problems. The text draws upon a review of existing research on prevention and recommends the most effective interventions and strategies for various target groups.

The UNODC Prevention Standards take as a starting point that the “primary objective of drug prevention is to help people, particularly but not exclusively young people, to avoid or delay initiation into the use of drugs, or, if they have started already, to avoid developing disorders (e.g. dependence)”. Reference is made to estimates that for every dollar spent on prevention, at least ten can be saved in future health, social and crime costs.

UNODC follows up by stressing that the general aim of drug prevention is much broader: “it is the healthy and safe development of children and youth to realize their talents and potential and become contributing members of their community and society. Effective drug prevention contributes significantly to the positive engagement of children, young people and adults with their families, schools, workplace and community”.

Today we know a lot more than before about what types of preventions strategies that yield the best results, as “prevention science in the last 20 years has made enormous advances” according to UNODC. The Prevention Standards publication identifies the major components and features of an effective national prevention system.

Altogether 584 studies were reviewed in the process of making the UNODC report. The conclusions point at effective prevention interventions and policies for four target groups according to age; infancy and early childhood, middle childhood (6-10 years), early adolescence (11-14 years), adolescence (15-19 years) and adulthood (above 20). Various age appropriate interventions are then rated according to their potential to produce the expected results.

The final part of the UNODC report describes how single interventions can be combined into larger prevention strategies.