The association “UP” helps adolescents live drug-free
The association «UP» implements a program for substance abusers and their families based on an indicated and selective prevention model. The program’s duration is about one year and its objective is to help youngsters overcome their addiction to alcohol and other drugs. The programme is held in the area of Ljubljana, and also admits clients who come from the vicinity of the capital.
The programme is targeted at young adolescents aged 12-18 and their families, and at young adults up to 22 years who abuse marijuana, alcohol, synthetic and other illicit drugs and are at risk of more frequent use and addiction. The basic selective prevention programme is addressed to young people who present a high risk of developing an addiction to such substances and to present addiction-related problems such as school dropout, problems in their social environment, unemployment, mental health issues, homelessness, diseases and delinquent behaviour.
Founded in 1993, UP is a non-profit and non-political Slovenian organization of public interest dedicated to help substance abusers return to a drug free life. Up offers information, treatment, rehabilitation and psychological follow up as well as a counselling and reintegration program.
The programme helps youngsters learn how to take care of themselves, to understand their needs and to act according to their emotions, experience and relationships with others. Up wants to create a safe place for adolescents to help them get the information they need, exchange experiences and understand both their situation and perspectives and that of their peers.
The programme begins as soon as they contact the association and start exchanging information. It is based on an individualized approach with a close involvement from families. The programme consists of various workshops and group work implemented within a “School for Life Skills” which includes a wide variety of presentations and lectures by experts.
Parents can be actively involved in the programme, and can explore and choose the solution that best suits their needs. If necessary, the association provides counselling and support during up to one year after the completion of the programme.
The first six months of the programme are dedicated to achieving abstinence. During this period and afterwards, the professional team tries and implement healthier socialization patterns and emphasizes the development of social abilities. Work is carried out in the form of individual counselling, family and group meetings for adolescents and their parents and/or family members.
Young people in the programme gain useful information about the harm that addiction-related behaviour may bring; they take responsibility for their behaviour, test new strategies, receive support to continue schooling, and are encouraged to take part in activities promoting healthier lifestyles. The programme also has a positive impact on the local environment: it helps spread healthy habits, improve family relations, increase inclusion in the school system or work environments, and alleviates the problems that may escalate with the development of addiction.
Many of our participants have the possibility to become peer advisers to new users once their own program has been completed. The association’s staff members have therefore the possibility to help them maintain abstinence. Participants are invited to complete an evaluation questionnaire upon completion of the programme.
In 2014 participants gave a high rating to many of the questionnaire’s components including: satisfaction with the programme, and positive changes on the personal level (personal growth, awareness, improved communication, problem-solving).
Since the programme is oriented towards individual work, users carried out individual evaluations based on their personal plans. The qualitative results clearly point to the achievement of set goals in adolescents who regularly attend activities, with a significantly more critical attitude towards the use of drugs and alcohol.