Policy

 POLICY PREVENTION OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE AND ADDICTION ROTARIAN ACTION GROUP PREVENTION SUBSTANCE ABUSE

The context of drug prevention

Components of effective drug prevention

The fight against addiction and other drug related problems is defined and conducted at aninternational, federal and provincial level. But the different sectors meet to work outactions at the local level. A problem that covers so many aspects must bring all players together. This also includes private organizations such as Rotary Clubs.

Drug policy includes prevention (schools and communities), relief work (specialized and integrated ) and control ( justice an police ). The role of the Rotary Clubs should be focussed on prevention of drug abuse. However there will always be tangent planes with other areas of work.

 WITHIN OF EACH OF THESE AREAS YOU CAN FOCUS ON

Diminishing the demand
(f.e. by showing the youngsters other ways to other forms of recreation , pleasure and happiness outside drug abuse, by taking care of drug addicts and treat them, by helping ex drug addicts by offering them opportunities to get a job again.)

Diminishing the availability
(f.e. by control measures on illegal, but also on legal drugs such as medication, alcohol and cigarettes and this in cooperation with all different communityco-players.)

Diminishing the damage
(f.e. by emphasizing the unexpected side effects, by protective measures of public health or by implementing safety measures.)

 ROTARY WILL FOCUS ITS ACTIONS ON DIMINISHING THE DEMAND FOR ILLEGAL DRUGS.

Thinking about prevention and education
Your club participates to actions of prevention in your town, region or community. Thereforehandles and guidelines for a drug or alcohol policy that exists on the federal, Flemish, provincial and local level are used. Of course also the suggestions made by the

District Commission for the prevention of drug abuse, appealing to the services and specialists of drug prevention and abuse, will also be incorporated. It will however always be necessary to form and formulate your own opinion on drugs and drug abuse. Teachers in the classroom will by not be in a position to cover the subject of drug risks and effects without a pupil asking “and what do you think about it yourself? “ This is also the case for the local responsible Rotarian or the members of the sub-commission drug prevention.

The use of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes has been extremely moralized in our society. This is absolutely necessary, since without debating on drinks, drugs, values an norms, there would no longer be a social control. But this also leads to alcoholics and other drug addicts being marginalized.

During social discussions, you try as a responsible member of the community to fightingmarginalising. In 1988 drug prevention pioneers launched the slogan “Drugs, talk about it!”This has nothing to do with approving the usage of drugs. It enables discussions on drug abuse and prepares the way to incorporate social control on drug abuse in the community. The fight against drug abuse requires a calm and open tone combined with efficacious steps.

The discussion on drugs (including tobacco, alcohol and medication) also covers rules. This causes the discussions to be difficult as discussions have to be as open as possible and rules have only a meaning when they are strict. This dualism is unavoidable. If parents do not imply rules and do not discuss drugs with their children, the reason often is because they want to avoid this duality. As a leader in the community, you frequently are a role model for many parents, whereby you are capable to enter an open debate on drugs and at the same time propose strict control measures.

Drugs are means with a psychoactive effect. They reach your brains via your blood and influence your mind. With illegal drugs that influence is often very strong and uncontrolled.But besides this, there is no essential difference between illegal and legal drugs such as tobacco, alcohol and many medicines. As a Rotary Club you can organize a campaign on one category of drugs in order to draw extra attention on f.e. cannabis, heavy beers or XTC. However, prevention policies should preferably cover all categories. History shows that policy measures focussing on one specific kind of drugs only, results in the user changing from one drug to another.

 FIVE STARTING POINTS FOR DRUGPREVENTION WITH THE ROTARY CLUBS

  1. A goal introduced last year by the Flemish Authorities on a health conference, to which the whole Last year the Flemish Authorities launched at the occasion of a health conference, to which also the whole prevention sector  cooperated, a diminution of 25 % by 2015 as a goal. This is an important and a measurable goal, which applies for alcohol, smoking and other drug abuses.Notwithstanding prevention of alcohol and smoking is always a part of promoting health, we asRotary approach drug prevention in its most narrow meaning, namely preventing the use of illegal drugs such as cannabis, extacy, heroine, cocaine and the like.Rotary will be part in achieving these goals, formulated at the level of the regional communities and at the level of the federal government’s new drug policy.The aim of a local Rotary action should always be to diminish the use of drugs.
  2. Prevention must be propagated on a coordinated and structural way and the Rotary Clubs should integrate with the regional and local consultative body thru the intermediary of the club members in charge and their initiatives. However, consultation itself is not Rotary’s goal. The strength of Rotary Clubs consists in spreading the good prevention programmes that have proven their evidence based efficiency. There are many different prevention programmes, of which some bear results with a specific target group and in relation to a specific drug. The District Drug Prevention Commission will accompany and advise the clubs in the selection of these programmes. Most schools take a leading part in the prevention programmes. Furnishing information and teaching social skills have priority. We should take care that schools, homesand communities have an identical approach.Rotary Clubs which intend to show a video prevention film to the high schools (secondary schools ), will firstly consult with the local prevention worker or with  the Prevention Counsel.…
  3. Furnishing information on drugs must be given in an up to date and well thought manner.The picture that many people have and not only the youngsters, that cannabis does not do many harm, need to be corrected. As of the seventies science made such an important progress, that with the help of neuro-imaging we can accurately show, what happens to your brains when you smoke a joint. We must translate this in a popular scientific way to the class room. This contributes to the awaking.An example of such an activity,  is a training session, that was organized for biology and chemistry teachers of six high schools. During this session it was demonstrated how they can have pupils exercise with the computer in a working party on the influence of drugs on the brain. The teachers incorporated what they learnt successfully into their teachings.
  4. When we teach social skills at school, it must be contrary to home, done in a methodical and supported way and not only intuitively nor ideologically. Thanks to the social sciences, we learnt in the course of last decennia, that group pressure works differently with respect to drug abuse than most people would think. It happens very rarely that bad friends in the entourage of our children shout “ here, use drugs ! “. The phenomenon is much more sophisticated and is called normative belief. Teenagers look up to the eighteen years old ones and suppose that they all smoke tobacco, drink and use cannabis.That belief becomesnormative for them and as a result they will behave as such. Lessons on critical thinking and group pressure are meant to reveal those mechanisms, which include marketing strategiesused by the cannabis trade.If we have the intention with Rotary to put efforts in drug prevention, we also must fight the naivety with which youngsters are taken for a ride, thinking that smoking a joint is something ecological, natural and rebellious. The real world is completely different: besides the serious health risks we all know, the youngsters participate at a stone-hard trade. This trade is anything but ecological and is more capitalistic that they could imagine.In a brochure that will be distributed by the Rotary Clubs, the youngsters will be confronted with the difference between the image they have on how drugs are produced and traded andthe reality.
  5. If we want to devote ourselves to distribute and sponsor the most efficacious prevention programmes in our neighbourhood in a most indicated way as a commission, as club and as a family member, we must back up and show believe in these programmes.Creating the possibility to act with these prevention programmes in our clubs, companies and families, will make the difference.As a minimum we must fully inform our clubs on the content, the working method and the results. As a maximum, we participate in taking training programmes as a group and learn how prevention works.From this experience and know-how we stand strong to offer to the schools, associations and companies in our neighbourhood these programmes and to help in implementing them. That ishow we become a network, that is the breech-block in executing the national prevention policy. By doing so Rotary becomes an important partner in the prevention policy, that will lead to results only if it is largely supported and sustained.The Rotary Club can ask an expert in training to fill three evenings with the club members and their spouses with an introducing lecture that includes questions and answers, followed by more intense workshop. During these workshops, educational stiles and personal conviction could be discussed.

 ILLUSTRATION: QUOTES ON THE APPROACH OF THE PROBLEM OF DRUGS

 

“There is one thing thanks to which our son, who is now 19 years of age did not sank away in the swamp of blowing and drink pints: talk, talk and talk once more.”

“ I hear teachers continually repeat the same old stuff on drugs and joints. They repeat be careful for this and be careful for that… I no longer listen to it. But there are cool websites with gimmicks and pop-ups, short films and tunes which are really pleasant. They at least also furnish the exact information. “

“When I am teaching social skills, I sometimes think that if there even would be only one, who remembers something, I would at least have achieved something…But when Iobjectively think it over afterwards, it would be nothing more but a poor result of my training and my preparations.”

“When I first started to take drugs, I simply took joints, I told myself come up guy, stop it, you will otherwise run into troubles. If there would have been somebody around me to support me or who would have expressed the same thought, I think it would have been possible to stay out of troubles. “

“You need a whole village to educate a child “ – An African saying.

Translated by Jacques De Maen – Rc Lokeren – March 10 – 2008