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close this bookPrevention of Drug Abuse through Education and Information: An Interdiscplinary Responsibility Within the Context of Human Development (EC - UNESCO, 1994, 26 p.)
close this folderINTRODUCTION
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOn the importance of preventive education
View the documentOn the priority of the concept of human development
View the documentOn the importance of interdisciplinarity


Drug abuse is a complex phenomenon: its prevention demands that a whole range of intricate theoretical and methodological measures and techniques be set in place.

This document proposes to analyze the conceptual and practical field on which preventive actions are based, in order to be able to define preventive education - its epistemology, its role and the supports it uses - in relation to UNESCO's objective of contributing to human development. To this end, the document describes and examines a variety of theoretical and technical measures, target audiences and criteria for selecting partners in preventive education programmes.

The abuse of drugs is a human phenomenon and, as such, must not be challenged in the same way as other phenomena. For the first time in the history of humanity, we are faced with an epidemic which attacks and undermines the very fabric of society, and not just the physical body of the individual. Because the phenomenon is so complex, it necessitates solutions which integrate several theoretical disciplines (interdisciplinarity) by means of a transverse analysis (transdisciplinarity) of practices which take into account the qualitative aspects of human development.

The massive eruption of problems linked to drugs in modern society calls our lifestyles and the political, economic and socio-cultural organization of our societies quite radically into question. It equally raises questions about the place of the symbolic dimension in our cultures. An issue so complex and of such growing magnitude cannot, however, be dealt with in a simplistic and voluntaristic manner ("just say no"), or by strategies of an essentially aggressive nature, such as "war on drugs".

According to Baudrillard «It is imperative to realize that the problem of drug-taking must be approached with sensitivity, and (because it is an ambiguous problem) with strategies that are, themselves ambiguous. The best form of prevention is to introduce a symbolical element into the social strategy, a difficult undertaking which involved flying the fact of today's excessive rationalization and social organization. Lack of a ready made solution does not spell failure, and we must at all costs avoid clear-cut unilateral strategies of denunciation, whereby one kind of society takes complacent refuge in its own hypocrisy. Drug-use is a question to which there are no glib answers»

In the face of an issue of such complexity, UNESCO's role is to propose a wide range of integrated actions which link together all types of knowledge and skills (interdisciplinarity). UNESCO's programme of preventive education was planned so as to embrace the ideological, cultural and spiritual dimensions of society. It suggests horizons for action which traverse social domains as varied as sports, technology and the arts, all of which are essential for human development, for the promotion of tolerance, peace, democracy and the respect of human rights.

1) Jean Baudrillard. The Courier, UNESCO, July 1987