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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 folderI. Drug Abuse Prevention Strategies
View the documentSupply reduction or demand reduction?
View the documentDilemmas of drug prevention

Dilemmas of drug prevention

It seems obvious that drug education practitioners will be confronted with more than one dilemma in their daily work. In a recent article, Goodstadt '6) describes the numerous dilemmas inherent in drug prevention - abstinence versus responsible use, drug education versus skills training, individual education versus environmental education, education versus legalization - with which many prevention workers are unfamiliar or have not thought them through.

6) Goodstadt, M. S. Drug Education: The Prevention Issues. In: Journal of Drug Education. 1989. Vol. 19(3), pp. 197-208

In his explanation of the supply reduction approach versus the demand reduction model Goodstadt makes a number of comments on the supporters of these approaches and on the combination of demand and supply reduction. He writes The demand reduction component is most commonly addressed through educational strategies. The assumption is that social problems, including discrimination, war and drug abuse can be reduced through changing the minds and hearts of the people. It is of interest to notice that those who have traditionally put most emphasis on supply reduction, are increasingly concerned that supply reduction has been ineffective in stemming drug use. These agencies have begun to emphasise demand reduction through their involvement in the development and implementation of educational programmes. However, among those traditionally concerned with demand reduction through education, pessimism has been growing that drug education is ineffective. He concludes: As with most of the dichotomies and other simplifications of the real world, it is likely that the choice between supply and demand reduction is only resolvable through a marrying of the two objectives: reducing the motivation for drug use and abuse, at the same time as reducing the availability of the drugs.

Against the background of the earlier observation that no coherent, operational and effective model for drug prevention has been developed, Goodstadt's remarks imply that:

- All faith should not be pinned on demand reduction alone.
- Drug abuse prevention must not be limited to drug education.
- Availability of drugs constitutes an essential element in the prevention of drug abuse.

It can be concluded that limiting availability and discouraging abuse of drugs and other psychotropic substances are the main strategies to produce an effective drug abuse prevention policy.

The most important tools of prevention at our disposal are a well-balanced control-policy to limit the availability of substances, information and education to discourage drug abuse and treatment and care to solve drug abuse problems. This report focuses mainly on the two communication tools information and education.