Drug Abuse in the Global Village

Drug Abuse in Western Europe

                                                    PRIMARY PREVENTION

Prevention policy in Austria addresses illicit drug abuse as well as licit use of psychotropic substances and alcohol. Audio visual material targets parents and students. Drug prevention is part of health education in schools. A special drug education programme has been implemented in Vorarlberg and is yet to be evaluated.

            Prevention of AIDS among drug abusers is highlighted (Austria 1991).

            Needle exchange schemes are available in some health institutions. Free needles and syringes programmes are also in place. Needles and syringes can be bought at low cost in all pharmacies without medical prescription (WHO 1991)


Prevention activities are coordinated by two non governmental organizations, the "Comitי de Concertation sur l'alcool et les autres Drogues" (CCAD) in the French speaking community and the "Vereniging voor Alcohol" (VAD) in the Flemish community. CCAD coordinates prevention and training programmes as well as epidemiological studies. Three preventive models, aimed at youth 10 to 18 years of age, are in operation. In the Flemish community, drug abuse information is widely available to school teachers. Further, since 1988 specialist in preventive measures are working throughout the community (Belgium 1991).

            In addition, in the German speaking community, a preventive programme characterized by a global approach to health education has been in operation since the 1980s. Prevention teams consisting of non professionals who receive continuous training, work in schools, families, communes, work places, leisure activity areas and with doctors and pharmacists. Coordination with the other communities is ensured (Belgium 1991).

            Drug education is carried out in primary and secondary schools (since 1984 and 1992 respectively). Mass media campaigns have been carried out since 1990 (Belgium 1991).


Primary and secondary prevention focus on school programmes and youth. Some schools offer informative seminars led by specialists on drug abuse. Special training is offered to practitioners since 1988. A brochure drawn up for the attention of pharmacists has been disseminated all over France. Police forces also undertake preventive tasks and receive special training (U.N. 1990).


The Federal Government of Germany made prevention the main focus of attention in it's 1990 NPDAC by increasing funding by 86 per cent, from 1.8 to 12.8 million marks. Prevention targets the general public, media representatives, young people, employers, members of judicial administration and school personnel among other specific groups (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            Frequent public information campaigns are carried out by way of the media (television, radio, cinema ,newspapers and magazines advertisements), telephone counselling and information services, information stands at sports events, festivals or other special events, up to date address lists of facilities available for counselling, posters, travelling or permanent exhibitions (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).
            Special conferences, fact sheets and field trips are organized to sensitize the media to drug related issues and avoid over sensationalism of drug related stories (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

             Mobile Drug Prevention, a pilot programme, aims at those dealing with young people outside school, i.e., police, family counsellors, employees and parents. About 37 specialists work in drug counselling centres to support, coordinate and initiate prevention programmes. This project targets mainly rural areas and small towns (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).

            Drug prevention is integrated in the syllabus of German schools as part of the health education. Every secondary school employ teachers specialized in the field of drug prevention (National Programme on Drug Abuse Control 1990).


Prevention efforts target parents, teachers and youth. Prevention is part of the national curriculum in both primary and secondary schools (the focus in primary school is mainly on tobacco and alcohol). Television, radio and newspapers all featured preventive messages in 1992. A comic book with an anti drug theme is planned for 1992/1993 aimed at young people (U.N. 1992).

            AIDS prevention. Public information regarding AIDS/HIV has been carried out. Street workers convey to drug addicts information on infection prevention and safe sexual practices, manage needle exchange programmes and distribute free condoms (Luxembourg 1991).


A comprehensive prevention programmes aims to reduce abuse of all licit and illicit drugs, including alcohol and tobacco consumption. The programme consists of communication and education campaigns. School health education programmes address all drug abuse. Prevention activities target especially high risk groups through street workers programmes. The whole programme consist of a wide range of prevention activities which make part of a comprehensive social welfare system. Many projects target young people for purpose of prevention and risk reduction (Netherlands 1991).

            Needle exchange programmes are widespread, 130 in 1990 in 58 municipalities. Needle exchange is often part of methadone maintenance programmes. Street prostitutes in larger cities are also provided with syringes. In a few municipalities, pharmacists exchange needles and syringes. Mobiles and automat machines are used to facilitate needle exchange (Netherlands 1991).

            About 30 per cent of the prisoners are drug abusers. Nurses, working in prisons, and probation personnel are trained to provide AIDS education (Netherlands 1991).

            In some cities, drug addicts forming "Junky unions", play an active role in AIDS prevention and peer counselling. These mutual help groups are funded by the Ministry of Welfare, Health and Cultural Affairs as part of its harm reduction policy (Ministry of Welfare et al. 1991).


Prevention activities are carried out in secondary schools and higher education establishments since 1981 (U.N. 1992).

            Basic drug education training is planned for doctors for the years 1993 and 1994. No training is provided to other professions. No other targeted prevention programmes are carried out (U.N. 1992).

            Religious groups, political parties and law enforcement agencies are involved in preventive programmes in the form of conferences and debates (U.N. 1992).


Education and information programmes on drug abuse are carried out in all "cantons" and are aimed at schools but also parents, youth and those responsible for young people. Programmes vary from one canton to another. Ministry of Health complement activities at the canton level through health education, using publications and mass media campaigns.

            In view of increasing HIV infections rates among drug abusers (42 per cent in 1991 compared to 28 per cent in 1988), a large scale STOP-AIDS campaign was launched in 1989. Needle exchange schemes are operating in most of Switzerland (Switzerland 1991).