Substance use prevention in educational settings in Eastern Europe and Central Asia     


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The use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, including injecting drugs, are issues of utmost concern in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). Schools have an important role to play in drug use prevention and health promotion by preparing children, adolescents and youth for a healthy and safe adulthood. High-quality, comprehensive and age appropriate prevention education that meets the actual needs of children and youth in terms of information and skills, and that is provided across all stages of general and professional education, could lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle and contribute to a reduction in drug use, smoking and drinking among young people. 

UNESCO regional HIV and health education programme (based at UNESCO IITE) with the support of UNESCO’s Section for Health and Global Citizenship Education carried out a review of policies and practices related to drug use prevention education in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA). The aim of the review is to inform discussions about the role of the education sector in preventing and addressing substance use among children and young people and to contribute to the development of recommendations on the implementation and scaling up of effective education sector responses to substance use at a national level.

The review comprises three sections. The first section provides a summary of a scale, dynamics and behaviour related to the use of psychoactive substances (tobacco, alcohol and drugs) among learners in EECA. The second section reviews the national policies that aim to prevent substance use by the general public and young people in particular. The third section presents key data on a coverage, formats and content of various educational programmes and other school-based measures to prevent substance use.

It provides examples of compulsory and optional educational curricula, extracurricular activities, parent and family education programmes, alongside data on their effectiveness. Based on evidence from different countries, it also identifies good practice in terms of cooperation between educational institutions, health care facilities and drug control services in the prevention of substance use and the rehabilitation of learners with drug dependency. The review ends with conclusions and recommendations to improve prevention programmes and other measures currently used by the educational sector to address substance use.

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