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close this bookDrug Education: Programmes and Methodology - An Overview of Opportunities for Drug Prevention (EC - UNESCO, 1995, 41 p.)
close this folderIV. Drug Prevention in some European Countries: A Review of Policies and Programmes
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View the documentUnited Kingdom
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· Drug Policy. In Germany it is estimated that the current (hard) drug problem concerns more than 60.000 drug addicts, equivalent to 0,6% of ex-West Germany. Some time ago, a national survey indicated that nearly 25% of young people between 14 and 25 reported having used cannabis once in their life, of whom about 1 million continued to use it. There is no reliable picture of the drug consumption situation in the Eastern part of Germany. The central Government has laid strong emphasis on supply prevention efforts: detection of illegal substances, law enforcement, customs control. The situation in the Bundeslander (Niedersachsen, Bayern, Schleswig-Holstein, Berlin etc.) is different, with more emphasis on demand reduction: education, care and treatment, rehabilitation. The regions (11 + 5 EastGerman) have autonomy to develop their own prevention policies, especially in the area of education, health care and drug prevention. The Federal Government only develops general guidelines and laws.

· Mass media campaigns. The German prevention strategy can best be characterized as a public information and community oriented strategy, which makes little use of high key mass media like television and advertising, with the exception of mass media campaigns to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Drug abuse prevention is very much integrated in general health promotion and is primarily focused on healthy life styles, not on substances. The prevention of drug abuse is considered as a long-term public health education process involving children, young people, parents and adults, professionals and key-persons. Nevertheless, Germany has a long experience with specific use of television - their Suchtwoche (Addiction Week) '47), when for a whole week (often in Autumn), information and discussion programmes and films focusing on addiction are broadcast. This Addiction week is aimed at raising the awareness of millions of people to substance abuse in their own environment, and programmes offer a lot of information on methods, institutions for treatment and self-help groups. Beside its information function, an important agenda setting effect of the Addiction Week Programs might be expected.

(47) Suchtwoche in Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen. Abhangige, Angehorige. ZDF Press Spezial.

· School and community drug programmes. German drug prevention policy is mainly based on a health education strategy using dissemination of written materials, and, some general objectives have been formulated for specific target groups. For young children in school, it is important to strengthen competence in interpersonal contacts, enabling them to resist counter-healthy influences from media stars and heroes, to enable them to make informed decisions in conflict situations. Positive, recreational activities to strengthen interpersonal relations in peer groups are promoted. For parents, educators, youth leaders and teachers, materials are available containing information and advice on how to communicate with young people. Parents are approached with creative materials, reflecting their own social situations, convincing them that it is their responsibility to speak up on health problems with their children. A well known campaign has been the "Alltag Scenen einer Clique" (Everyday life: scenes from a clique) '48). The brochure used in this campaign analyses everyday situations of young people, illustrating peer group mechanisms, problems like negative feelings and how to express feelings of anxiety, and lack of self-esteem, but also illustrating the importance of having strong positive relationships with friends, parents and school.

48) Buismani W.R. Mass Media Drug Campaigns in Europe. Report for the Council of Europe.Utrecht. 1987

Germany has developed a long tradition of health and drug education in schools. In the Bundeslander (for example, Niedersachsen), training courses are organized in cooperation with some universities to inform and train all secondary school teachers to give lessons on health and substance abuse. It was recently decided that education specialists will be employed in most regions in Germany to support and initiate all kinds of preventive activities in the local communities, including prevention at the workplace, in churches, youth centres, schools, sport and leisure clubs. A national and regional infra-structure to train and educate health professionals in drug abuse prevention is now under development (Institut fur Therapieforschung OFT, Munchen, Hamburg).

· Evaluation of German drug prevention. Germany has a broad concept of prevention, with no strong emphasis on drug education. On the other hand, much attention is paid to health promotion and alternatives to drug use (youth theatre, art projects in Berlin) '49), but insufficient data and information is available to decide whether the German prevention concept is effective in reducing drug abuse.

49) See Note. 26. p. 49