Professional Development

The Professional Development section of the Prevention Hub will provide training tools, user guides, webinars, videos, online lectures, resources and discussion forums.

This section is under development and will launch with phase 3 of the Prevention Hub. Let us know what you'd like to see here by sending us an email: info [at] preventionhub [dot] org.

Currently we have a selection of Mentor International's resources to support you in your prevention work.

Evaluation Tools

Mentor provides a guide to assist you with evaluation your prevention program. It includes several resources that allow you to introduce or improve your program evaluation. Evaluation is an essential part of drug prevention work, allowing you to assess your impact and improve your funding potential.

Adolescent Brain

There is significant new research concerning adolescent brain development and the effects of alcohol and other drug use on the developing brain. This emerging science is providing new insights about how teenagers make critical and life influencing decisions, including their decisions about drug use. Brain imaging studies suggest that the brain continues to develop through adolescence and into young adulthood (age 25 years).



The act of refraining from alcohol or other drug use, whether for health, personal, social, religious, moral, legal or other reasons.

Reference: UNODC

The propensity of a particular psychoactive substance to be susceptible to abuse, defined in terms of the relative probability that use of the substance will result in social, psychological, or physical problems for an individual or for society.

Reference: WHO

A chronic, relapsing disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite serious adverse consequences, and by long-lasting changes in the brain.

Reference: NIDA

The way in which a substance is introduced into the body, such as oral ingestion, intravenous (IV), subcutaneous, or intramuscular injection, inhalation, smoking, or absorption through skin or mucosal surface, such as the gums, rectum, or genitalia. The manner of administration has a critical effect on the speed and intensity of drug effects and, hence, on the degree of intoxication, nature of risk exposure and dependence liability. It can also have a major influence on the nature and severity of undesirable effects and consequences, including body organ damage (e.g. lungs, veins) and infection transmission (e.g. hepatitis, HIV).

Reference: UNODC

In substance abuse prevention, the age of first use.

Reference: SAMHSA

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Is the final stage of HIV infection, when your body can no longer fight life-threatening infections. See HIV

Reference: NHS

Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, is an intoxicating ingredient found in beer, wine, and liquor. Alcohol is produced by the fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches.

Reference: WHO

A general term for a range of disorders due to the effects of alcohol on the brain-acute intoxication, pathological intoxication, withdrawal syndrome, delirium tremens, hallucinosis, amnesic syndrome, dementia, psychotic disorder. More specific terms are preferred.

Reference: WHO

An individual who suffers from alcoholism. Note that this noun has a different meaning from the adjective in alcoholic beverage.

Reference: WHO

Usually refers to... Programmes designed to provide positive use of leisure time activities and to facilitate a sense of self worth without using drugs. Founded on the belief that some people, particularly young people, engage in illicit drug use because they cannot find worthwhile, self-fulfilling, activities in which to engage or because they do not make positive and healthy use of leisure time. Programmes range from providing leisure activities to forming activity or interest groups.

Reference: UNODC

One of a large group of synthetic drugs with powerful stimulant action on the central nervous system, which includes many substances exclusively encountered on the illicit market and a large number of drugs with medicinal use.

Amphetamines are most frequently ingested orally, sniffed/snorted, smoked, or injected. Intravenous injection is gaining in popularity worldwide.

They increase breathing and heart rate, lessen appetite and make the pupils widen. Users tend to feel more alert, energetic, confident and cheerful and less bored or tired. With high doses people often experience a rapid flow of ideas and feel they have increased physical and mental powers.

Common street names: “speed”; “ice” and “cat”.

Reference: DrugScope


In drug users' jargon, an adverse effect of drug use, consisting of any mixture of the following: feelings of losing control, distortions of body image, bizarre and frightening hallucinations, fears of insanity or death, despair, suicidal thoughts, and strong negative affect. Physical symptoms may include sweating, palpitations, nausea, and paraesthesia. Although adverse reactions of this type are usually associated with the use of hallucinogens, they may also be caused by the use of amphetamines and other psychomotor stimulants, anticholinergic, antihistamines, and sedatives/hypnotics.

Reference: WHO

Barbiturates are synthetic drugs that used to be regularly prescribed for anxiety, depression and insomnia. However, they are highly dangerous because of the small difference between a normal dose and an overdose and many people were either accidentally dying or deliberately using them to commit suicide. Tolerance to barbiturates develops rapidly and the liability for harmful use or dependence is high. Patients who use these drugs over long periods can become psychologically and physically dependent, even though the prescribed dose is never exceeded.

Street names: Barbs, Block Busters, Christmas Trees, Goof Balls, Pinks, Red Devils, Reds & Blues, Yellow Jackets, Angels, Nembies, Chewies.

Reference: DrugScope

Refers to interventions that reflect desired outcomes.

Reference: EMCDDA

The concentration of alcohol (ethanol) present in blood. It is usually expressed as mass per unit volume, but different countries may express it differently or use different units.

Reference: WHO

Refers to the processes that generate, shape, and reshape the nervous system, from the earliest stages of embryogenesis to the final years of life.

Reference: Wikipedia


Refers to activities conducted to improve the ability of an organization or community to deliver substance abuse prevention services, such as improving organizational resources; improving awareness about substance abuse problems; building new relationships or strengthening existing relationships among coalitions, groups, and organizations involved in substance abuse prevention; and working to ensure prevention intervention activities and outcomes continue after funding ends.

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug of abuse. It is obtained from coca leaves or synthesized from ecgonine or its derivatives. Cocaine, or "coke", is often sold as white, translucent, crystalline flakes or powder ("snuff", "snow"), frequently adulterated with various sugars or local anaesthetics. The powder is sniffed ("snorted") and produces effects within 1-3 minutes that last for about 30 minutes.

Reference: WHO

Activities related to prevention carried out at community level, stimulating the involvement of community actors/institutions (for example: school, youth centre, neighbourhood, city, city districts) in order to intervene in people's immediate surroundings and to facilitate active participation in a social context.

Reference: EMCDDA

Is the street name given to cocaine that has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride to a free base for smoking.

Reference: The Prevention Hub

This refers to the need to consider whether any development or initiative undertaken in one culture and being replicated to another culture needs to be adapted in the light of the nature and needs of the culture to which it is being transferred.


A recommendation for drug use to be addressed as a health issue rather than a criminal matter where those who use drugs are offered support and treatment rather than a criminal sentence and going through the legal system. Not to be confused with legalisation.

A withdrawal syndrome with delirium; an acute psychotic state occurring during the withdrawal phase in alcohol-dependent individuals and characterized by confusion, disorientation, paranoid ideation, delusions, illusions, hallucinations (typically visual or tactile, less commonly auditory, olfactory, or vestibular), restlessness, distractibility, tremor (which is sometimes gross), sweating, tachycardia, and hypertension. It is usually preceded by signs of simple alcohol withdrawal.

Reference: WHO

Efforts aimed at reducing the amount and level of drug use by targeting the demand for drugs by the user or potential user with the aim to reduce the wish or need to use. It includes the efforts of those involved by those involved in prevention, intervention, care and treatment.

A process in which the body rids itself of a drug (or its metabolites). During this period, withdrawal symptoms can emerge that may require medical treatment. This is often the first step in drug abuse treatment.

Reference: NIDA

The regulation, by a system of laws and agencies, of the production, distribution, sale, and use of specific psychoactive drugs (controlled substances) locally, nationally, or internationally (see international drug conventions). Alternatively, equivalent to drug policy (compare alcohol policy).

Reference: WHO

The appropriate term for referring to "use", "misuse" or "abuse" of drugs is often debated.

When does "use" become "misuse" or is it "abuse"?

The substance in question, the age of the user, the amount, regularity of the "use", and the harm it does or can cause will affect the terminology.

Some people would argue that the "use" debate should be focused on the distinction between "use" and "harmful use". The terms "misuse" and "abuse" are often used synonymously although some would argue that the focus should be on the drug that is being misused rather than abused and not on the person who is a "misuser" rather than an abuser.


Slang term for MDMA, a synthetic amphetamine-related substance. It is a psychoactive drug with both stimulant (amphetamine-like) and hallucinogenic (LSD-like) properties.

Reference: Mentor

Systematic and scientific collection, processing and analysis of data related to the implementation of an intervention, in order to assess whether the objectives of an intervention have been achieved.

Reference: EMCDDA


A chemical agent that induces alterations in perception, thinking, and feeling which resemble those of the functional psychoses without producing the gross impairment of memory and orientation characteristic of the organic syndromes. Most hallucinogens are taken orally. Effects are noted within 20-30 minutes of ingestion (depending on the drug used) and include euphoria, visual hallucinations and altered perceptions. Rapid fluctuations between euphoria and dysphoria are common.

Reference: WHO

A term used to refer to work that focuses on reducing the harm that drugs can cause. Harm reduction is understood by some to mean the acceptance and condoning of drug use. For others it is seen as a step towards helping users to stop using a particular drug. Often, activity in drug abuse prevention has the reduction of the harm that drugs can cause as one of its objectives. Drug use can cause suffering and harm at all levels; personal misery and ill health; harm to friends and family; violence and crime; problems in the community; great cost at the financial and human and societal levels etc. So reducing or preventing these "harms" that can result from drug use is an acceptable focus in the view of most that work in the field. Alcohol related issues are generally undertaken within a "harm reduction" approach. However this does not mean that drug misuse is being condoned. It is more a matter of dealing with different realities that the prevention field is confronted with in terms of people's drug use.

Heroin is processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin usually appears as a white or brown powder. Heroin can be injected, smoked, or sniffed/snorted. High purity heroin is usually snorted or smoked.

Reference: Mentor

Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Is a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal or vaginal), transfusion of contaminated blood, sharing of contaminated needles, and between a mother and her infant during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Reference: WHO


Indicated prevention aims to identify individuals who are exhibiting indicators that are highly correlated with an individual risk of developing substance abuse later in their life. See more in our Guide to Drug Prevention.

Non-Governmental Organizations with an international remit.

Reference: UNODC

Inhalants are breathable chemical vapours that produce psychoactive (mind-altering) effects. Many do not think of inhalable substances as drugs because most of them were never meant to be used in that way.

Reference: Mentor

International treaties concerned with the control of production and distribution of psychoactive drugs.

Reference: WHO


Refers to making drug use, possession, production and distribution legal. Unlike decriminalisation, legalisation would repeal all penalties, criminal and civil, for use, possession, production and distribution of a substance. However it is still envisaged that there would be controls on availability and age restrictions with respect to obtaining them.

Reference: Beckley Foundation

Life skills are the abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. (WHO, 1997) Developing children's and young people's personal and social skills, their confidence and competence, and their ability to be able to make positive and healthy choices can contribute to helping prevent drug misuse. Knowledge and information are important but on their own do not necessarily change behaviour. It is the values, attitudes and most importantly the "skills" they possess that will enable them to practice prevention in their behaviour. As with most things in life it is impossible to achieve without the necessary skills - this is also true for the area of health related behaviour.

See also: Life Skills Education

Life skills education is designed to facilitate the practice and reinforcement of psychosocial skills in a culturally and developmentally appropriate way; it contributes to the promotion of personal and social development, the protection of human rights, and the prevention of health and social problems. (WHO, 1998)

See also: Life Skills

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and is one of the most potent drugs known.

Commonly referred to as acid, is sold on the street in tablets, capsules, and, occasionally, liquid form. It is odourless, colourless, and has a slightly bitter taste and is usually taken by mouth.

Reference: Mentor


Marijuana is a green or grey mixture of dried, shredded flowers and leaves of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa. There are over 200 slang terms for marijuana including pot, herb, weed, boom, Mary Jane, gangster and chronic.

Reference: Mentor

Media campaigns or public service announcements are an approach often used in prevention to raise awareness of particular issues surrounding the drugs issue or for increasing public knowledge of drugs and drugs issues. They generally focus on using marketing and advertising techniques to provide information and awareness about drugs and the effects or consequences of their use. They are also usually focused on stopping or even scaring people from using drugs.


Non-Governmental Organization. A service agency which is independent of government and operates in a broad social field. As most of them are non-profit organizations, NGOs can be funded by governments, public institutions and/or private donations. Often, such agencies have a mix of paid staff and voluntary workers and they have traditionally provided services in sectors where it would not be possible to provide funding for fully paid staff.

Reference: UNODC

An alkaloid, which is the major psychoactive substance in tobacco. It has both stimulant and, subjectively, relaxing effects. It produces an alerting effect in some individuals, an increased capacity to focus attention. In others, t reduces anxiety and irritability. Nicotine is used in the form of inhaled tobacco smoke, ‘smokeless tobacco’ (such as chewing tobacco), snuff, nicotine gum, or as an adhesive patch worn on the skin.

Reference: UNODC


The use of any drug in such an amount that acute adverse physical or mental effects are produced. Deliberate overdose is a common means of suicide and attempted suicide. In absolute numbers, overdoses of licit drugs are usually more common than those of illicit drugs. Overdose may produce transient or lasting effects, or death; the lethal dose of a particular drug varies with the individual and with circumstances.

Reference: WHO


A psychoactive drug with central nervous system depressant, stimulant, analgesic, and hallucinogenic effects.

Reference: WHO

Drug or Substance use/misuse/abuse Prevention is defined broadly as an intervention designed to address the social and environmental determinants of what might lead to drug and alcohol abuse.

It is aimed at changing the personal, social and/or environmental factors that can contribute towards delaying or avoiding the onset of drug use and/or the avoidance of drug use becoming harmful or problematic. It is undertaking an action that makes drug misuse less likely with a focus on the promotion of health and well-being. For young people it involves preventing and delaying premature and under age illegal use of "legal" and socially accepted and available substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

A joint number of co-ordinated activities or interventions. The programme aims to achieve general objectives related to drugs.

Reference: EMCDDA

These are factors which if addressed can help to "protect" people from misusing drugs and which often correspond to the factors that need to be considered in tackling risk factors. They include:

  • Developing strong family bonds
  • School success experiences
  • Meaningful contacts with other adults and family members
  • Acquisition of life skills
  • Development of resiliency skills


A specific form of needs assessment that involves using local resources and specific methods to undertake a relatively quick, easy and inexpensive snapshot of a specific group or community in order to assess the needs of any planned initiative. It is a way of working that does not use a traditional scientific approach to needs assessment but encourages using local people using tools such as questionnaires, observation, group meetings and interviews for qualitative data on which to assess need and propose plans for action.

A concept generally used in relation to the approach to preventing alcohol related harm and problems. As a legal and socially accepted drug or substance for many cultures the policy promoted in many countries is to encourage "responsible use" of alcohol which means limiting the amount drunk at any one time or over a period or even abstaining from drinking when harm might occur as a result of the intoxication levels. E.g. when about operating machinery or on work duty, driving, responsible for children, avoiding mixing when on medication, etc.

These are the factors, which unless addressed, are associated with the greatest potential for people misusing drugs. There are many risk factors for drug abuse, each representing a challenge to the psychological and social development of an individual and each having a differential impact depending on the phase of development. Risk factors include:

  • Chaotic home environments particularly in which parents abuse substances
  • Ineffective parenting
  • Behaviour problems
  • Poor school performance
  • Poor social and coping skills
  • Affiliations with deviant peers
  • Perceptions of approval of drug using behaviour
  • Shy and/or aggressive behaviour
  • Mental health problems
  • Living in high prevalence of use areas


Selective prevention serves specific sub-populations whose risk of a disorder is significantly higher than average, either imminently or over a lifetime. See more in our Guide to Drug Prevention.

Refers to all people and groups who have a link with any particular initiative. It would include funders, target groups, local community where any activity is being implemented, local media etc. The concept of "involving stakeholders" is for ensuring that all parties who may add value to an initiative by being involved because of a link with the activity are identified, kept informed and encouraged as appropriate to enable the initiative to achieve its objectives.

The term substance includes both drugs and other chemicals that, when used or taken, have an effect on the mind, brain or body. "Substances" is often used synonymously with the term "drugs" although it is more technically accurate and includes all psychoactive and pharmaceutical substances and medicines, the legal substance such as tobacco (nicotine) and alcohol, volatile substances (glue, inhalants) as well as the well known illegal substances such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy etc. The issue of concern is their use and misuse which can result in harm or become a major factor in health and social problems, problem behaviour, and physical suffering. The use of tobacco, alcohol and solvents are most common among young people and usually their first experience of drug use. Alcohol and tobacco cause more preventable health problems and premature death than any other drug.

Efforts to stop drugs being grown, transported and trafficked to stop them reaching the potential consumer. Supply control is usually targeted at illegal substances and includes the efforts of police, customs and legislation to tackle drug supply.

Ability to continue a program or practice as a long term development after funding ends.

Reference: SAMHSA


The intended focus of a particular program or intervention.

Reference: SAMHSA

The specific group of people whom a program or intervention is designed to serve or reach.

Reference: SAMHSA

A condition in which higher doses of a drug are required to produce the same effect achieved during initial use; often associated with physical dependence.

Reference: NIDA


Universal prevention strategies address the entire population (local community, pupils, neighbourhood). The aim of universal prevention is to deter or to delay the onset of substance abuse by providing all individuals the information and skills necessary to prevent the problem. See more in our Guide to Drug Prevention.


Symptoms that occur after chronic use of a drug is reduced abruptly or stopped. One such symptom is Delerium Tremens.

Reference: NIDA