In October ECAD spoke at 2020 OSCE-wide Conference on Combating the Threat of Illicit Drugs and the Diversion of Chemical Precursors: Strengthening Effective Prevention of Drug Use among Youth through Community Policing.

ECAD presented lessons learned from its 26 year long existance as a network of cities cooperating on drug demand reduction.

What follows is a brief summary of the presentation:

Drug use and drug addiction are multifactorial and complex phenomenon that touches upon biological as well as psychosocial aspects of human life.

The high level of complexity should not discourage us from acting to prevent large scale onset of drug use, especially during the formative period of adolescence when the brain matures, and teenagers produce habits and life patterns for their adult life.

Contrary to common perception, many prevention experts argue that attitudes follow behavior, not the other way around. Trying to make young, thrill seeking adolescents listen to a message of non-drug use will therefore likely be tricky.  

Despite the challenges there are many things societies can do to foster an infrastructure of prevention that aims to change the behaviors of cohorts of young people and subsequently also their attitudes.

European Cities Action Network of Drug Free Societies shares lessons learned, best practices and concrete examples in working to minimize the drug problem derived from its 26 year long existence engaging with local communities and cities across Europe.

To achieve population wide, large-scale reductions in drug demand one needs to foster a network around adolescences in which local and national actors each play their role.

Countries should tap into existing literature and resources on successful drug prevention rather than “just do something”. UNODC international standards on drug use prevention are an excellent start. As is the evidence primary prevention model which originated in Iceland.

Parenting skills, community policing, and recovery-oriented treatment systems should form building blocks of primary prevention strategies to bring down demand for drugs.

The presentation can be found here: