Prevention Update

A unique update on what is happening in the world of drug abuse prevention.

Welcome to Prevention Update, Mentor International's daily summary of and comment on latest news, research, statistics, policy updates, information on resources and events. It is relevant in particular to practitioners and policy makers but equally valuable and interesting to all who form the drug prevention community.

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Vivid picture of international drug use from analysis of wastewater

We have previously described the emerging science of sewage epidemiology. This latest meeting of international experts in Lisbon, 'Testing The Waters', was attended by over 100 participants from 20 countries. The conference concluded that, 'offering reliable data on spatial and temporal trends in illicit drug use, the technique can reveal what drugs are being used, where they are being consumed and even on which days of the week.' The event was organised by the EMCDDA, in collaboration with: the EU-funded SEWPROF project; the Italian Mario Negri Institute; and the Norwegian Institute for Water Research.


How important are social skills and problem-solving in reducing youth substance use?

This Spanish study examined how the elimination of either problem-solving or social skills training from the school-based drug prevention programme 'Saluda' affected substance use. 341 Spanish students aged 12-15 were assigned to the full programme, social skills only, problem solving only, or education as usual. Findings showed that the full Saluda programme was indeed more effective than standard education. Interestingly however, removing either the social skills or the problem solving element did not significantly reduce initial success in drug prevention, although this might reduce effectiveness over time.


Alcohol labelling - forgotten policy tool in prevention?

Despite evidence showing the effectiveness of health warnings on cigarette packaging, this policy tool is surprisingly absent when it comes to alcohol, according to a new study. Few countries require a list of ingredients or health warnings and astonishingly none require basic nutritional information. Only Australia requires serving size and servings per container to be displayed (it is also the only country in the world with plain tobacco packaging in place). Evidence suggests that labels which are composed of both nutritional information and health warnings would constitute the best approach to empower consumers to make healthy, informed decisions about their alcohol intake. The authors stress the need for better labelling of alcoholic beverages.


Smoking bans at venues need to include entrance areas

Research from Spain found that health protection from smoking bans decreases when staff or customers are allowed to smoke on terraces or near entrances. The findings correspond to similar studies in other European countries and in Uruguay.


Successful school based alcohol education programme

The successful Australian, 'School Health and Alcohol Harm Reduction Project' (SHAHRP) has been adapted for use in Northern Ireland secondary (high) schools. Unsurprisingly, the most favourable effects were obtained when lessons had been delivered by external specialists rather than the schools' own teachers, but both exceeded results for the control group receiving only standard lessons. The programme has achieved significant medium to long term reduction in alcohol use and risky drinking behaviours such as alcohol affected decision making, substance mixing, negative peer influence and aggressive behaviour. The findings suggest that lessons need to incorporate interactive learning, start just prior to and during the times when pupils first try drinking, be culturally sensitive, and provide realistic scenarios dealing with realistic issues. Study results also appear to strongly contradict criticisms that harm reduction approaches may reduce abstinence and increase levels of drinking. The article refers to similar programmes in the USA and elsewhere.


Underage Drinking Prevention Webinar: Role of Public Health

'The Role of Public Health in Preventing Underage Drinking and Excessive Drinking by Adults' is part of the 'Preventing Underage Drinking' webinar series sponsored by the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD). In this webinar, national experts will provide an overview of recent scientific findings on underage and binge drinking in the US as well as strategies to address it; examine new research findings on the relationship between state alcohol policies and underage drinking and discuss the current status of alcohol regulations in the US.

EMCDDA interactive map shows drug use patterns in Europe

Here is an interesting interactive map presented by the EMCDDA showing patterns of drug use (cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines, ecstasy, inhalants and problem drug use) throughout Europe. The map shows that for instance lifetime prevalence of cannabis use amongst schools population is highest in the Czech Republic (42%) and France (39%). Around 17% of 15-34 year-olds in France, Poland and Spain tried this drug in the past year. The EMCDDA notes that due to country differences in data collection the map should be used in conjunction with cautionary notes to avoid misleading interpretations. The information is based on the most recent data from 2006-2011.


National Symposium on Substance Abuse and Drug Control

The Centre for Research and Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA) is the main organiser of the National Symposium on Drug Abuse and Drug Control in Nigeria. The Symposium will be focussed around studies investigating various aspects of both licit and illicit drug availability, use and dependence. The event will also coincide with the official launch of the Nigerian Association of Substance Abuse Professionals. Early bird registration for the Symposium ends 30 June. Fees apply.

Store receipts fuelling youth drinking challenged in Australia

Numerous research papers have linked alcohol advertising and promotions to excessive drinking particularly among young people. This problem has recently been addressed by the New South Wales Government (NSW) that is considering banning the promotion of alcohol on grocery store receipts issued to customers. Such promotions are usually 'buy 1 get 1 free' offers on wine which may risk contributing to alcohol-related harm. The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing has requested two supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles to 'show just cause' as to why the practice should not be banned. We are interested to find out what the progress of this case will be.


Strengthening Family Strategy International Conference 2013

The Strengthening Family Strategy International Conference is a result of work undertaken by several organisations working with the Strengthening Families Approach, aiming to protect and nurture young children while promoting their development. This year's edition will take the form of a virtual platform where professionals and organisations around Europe and America, will be able to present their research and share best practice strategies on the Strengthening Families Approach. Abstract submission ends 30 September 2013. Registration is required (fees €60-100).


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