Drug & Alcohol Community Prevention in Portugal

Vienna (Austria) – During the 55th Session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (12-16 March), a session attended by a number of Dianova representatives, Dianova in Portugal joined a side-event to present the outcomes of a Community Prevention Initiative conducted annually for three years in the Torres Vedras region (Portugal) and the objective of which is to prevent the negative consequences of drug and alcohol misuse. “Engaging Youth and Enrolling Community in a Prevention Initiative” was the title of the presentation – Download presentation.

40,000. This is the estimated number of people killed annually in motor vehicle collisions in Europe. Those most concerned are the young drivers, especially male drivers, who account for about 27% of driver fatalities across OECD countries, although people in the same age group represent only about 10% of the population.

Various bars and restaurants had joined the initiative

Traffic crashes are the single greatest killer of those aged 15-24 in OECD, mainly resulting from a variety of factors including inexperience, age and gender. In addition, the risk is aggravated by the circumstances under which many young people drive: young people are over-represented in crashes at high speed, at night, with similarly aged passengers, involving alcohol. The effect of illicit drug use and other psychoactive substance on the risk of road crashes is still poorly documented, however the evidence shows that most of these substances, used alone or combined with alcohol (especially cannabis), significantly impair driving capabilities.

Dianova volunteers, as "health ambassadors"

Dianova in Portugal has been contributing to prevention efforts for 3 years. Each year, the organization conducts a prevention initiative which focuses on reducing drug and alcohol-related risk behaviors among young people aged 18-25, including DUI, school dropout, teen and unplanned pregnancies, depression and delinquency.

Street prevention with Red Bull

The event is organized during youth week and gathers the whole community of Torres Vedras, near Lisbon capital city. The initiative was actually made possible by the cooperation of everyone, including institutional partners, media, young people themselves, but also the city hall, municipal police and a number of the city’s bars, restaurants and nightclubs and the participation of Red Bull corporation.

The initiative not only aims to prevent and educate young people, but it also points out that we can all have fun, we can all loosen up without resorting to alcohol or drugs. Besides providing free promotional materials such as flyers, t-shirts, posters, or movie tickets, a voucher was also handed out to enjoy a “mocktail” of alcohol free cocktail in participating restaurant and bars.

2011 initiative has been very successful: 1,900 students from 4 schools attended prevention conferences and our 110 volunteers could reach out to about 9,000 more people. In addition, 28 police officers and 260 employees from 21 restaurant, bars, and nightclubs have joined the initiative, and, last but not least, approximately 6,600 “mocktails” have been consumed. In conclusion, the initiative helped suggest that education and health promotion can bring about behavioral changes among young people, provided that one can manage to involve the whole community, including them…