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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.)
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close this folderINTRODUCTION
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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
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View the documentYoung people and children
View the documentWomen
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View the documentInformation
View the documentMass Media
View the documentPeers as agents of prevention
View the documentFear as a tool of dissuasion
View the documentAffective education


Even if drug taking is essentially a personal question, use takes place within a socio-cultural context and is linked to a whole series of societal events. This would suggest that when devising measures and formulating preventive programmes, understanding and analyzing personal motivations will not suffice; it is also essential to study and understand the influence exerted on individuals by their environment.

A preventive education programme is thus addressed both

a) to the individual, aimed at increasing involvement in the goals of the community and his or her possibilities for, inter alia, self control and self determination, through a series of complementary and concerted activities directed towards maximizing possibilities of intellectual, affective, psychological and physical autonomy the individual;


to the community (13) aimed at increasing possibilities of social control by groups if its members. In this case, measures proposed are based on a varied range of methods supported by networks of primary and secondary socialization at formal or non-formal levels intended to engender individual and collective behavioral change through societal controls. Such measures aim at improving the living conditions of the whole community and thus promoting human development.

(13) The notion of community is not taken to mean a geographical entity or uniform policy, but refers to neighbours, inhabitants of a village, town or city, who are concerned with the quality of life of their collectivity

To this end, different networks and levels of socialization, ie. the family, the school, the community, and society as a whole, must be integrated within active and participatory pedagogy.

The strategy is one of establishing links between school and life, life outside school and leisure activities, through inter generation communication and by making each individual aware of his or her responsibilities, penetrating social interfaces from schooldays up to entry into the world of work. Whence the importance of curbing any inhibition of informal social controls by placing too much weight on formal control (for example, it must be remembered that all young people in every region of the world do not necessarily go to school). It is essential that this strategy takes account of the social fabric, its wealth and its potential, enhancing the value of cultural roots of individuals and social groups and their initiatives. Articulating the more or less spontaneous responses of the institutions of civil society with those of a more or less formal nature established by the State, and enriched by those coming from institutions specialized in this domain, is a key to the success of these programmes.

As UNESCO reminds us «Specialists of this problem should not stand alone in the fight against drug abuse, but increasingly be supported by the active involvement of different sectors of society and social partners, by the political will of Governments, through coherent national drugs policies and assisted by .specialized institutions» (14)

(14) Drugs: Demand Reduction, op. cit. p 1.

Joining efforts at local, national and international levels, producing convergent synergies, the mutual enrichment of different cultures, is not only a response to this issue, but also a duty when faced with breakdowns in the fabric of society. To listen, to reflect together, to understand, to analyze and set in place collective responses by mobilizing the widest possible partnership is necessary and urgent. Awareness of individual and collective responsibilities should be stimulated to recreate the solidarity which once existed within different population groups by increasing their capacities to defend themselves and to resist pressures to take drugs as a solution to difficult problems and in order to cope with situations arising out of the crises of our modern world.

Notwithstanding, " in the domain of the consumption of drugs and the consequent dependencies this can cause, there is no exact way to form a link between them and the different levels of explanation. Therefore, it is not possible to disparage an uniform process in response to a causal logic. One could argue here that the important issue is neither the quality nor validity of an aetiologic theory, but is rather the practical success of the preventive action. In other words, a theoretical knowledge on the causes of drug use is not a guarantee for the efficiency of prevention. In fact, it is only when a theory and functional hypothesis have been successfully combined that the necessary conditions for an effective prevention, are joined " (15)and, in this way a contribution could be made to the promotion of human development.

(15) "Le probl de la drogue (en particulier en Suisse) consid dans son aspect social et prntif". Lausanne University, 1990, pi. 178

The sole aim of theoretical and conceptual contributions is to improve understanding of the mechanisms at play in different situations. However, these contributions are preventive tools, not a sine qua non of success. Notwithstanding, if these contributions are lacking, then the preventive intervention could become nothing more than a moralizing enterprise and, in this respect, some consideration should be given to the danger inherent in insufficiently planned production of preventive materials, for example, audio-visual aids, posters, etc., generally designed simply to appease the collective conscience.

To increase the effectiveness of preventive education, we also need a methodology, through the analysis of situations, choice of priorities, definition of objectives, definition of methods, planning and evaluating action, reformulating the latter in accordance with results.

To obviate any moralistic concerns in preventive education, the choice of techniques is also very important and should be the outcome of a precise analysis of situations (socio-cultural context) and adapted techniques. To this end, the following list of techniques, albeit not exhaustive, can be used in various preventive education programmes. (16)

(16) The following points were drafted making use of the work commissioned by the Swiss Federal Office of Health: "Le probl de la drogue (en particulier en Suisse) consid dans son aspect social et prntif" op. cit.