From 10th to 16th May 2022, the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP) gave an opportunity to its members to connect, unite and share evidence-based knowledge on substance use prevention, treatment and recovery support in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The theme of “Uniting the global community to face the challenge of addiction” was timely as the first in-person conference since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020.
During the conference, there were keynote speakers sharing the latest developments and sub-plenaries focusing on topics of relevance and pertinence to the drug demand reduction workforce working despite the challenges of COVID-19. There was also a week-long stream of sessions from the in-person conference, presentations updating on the substance use situation and responses from around the world. In addition, side meetings, networking events, forums and social activities allowed for deepening professional relationships and important discussions on addiction policy, practice and research.
I was privileged to attend the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) Family (For Managers & Supervisors) which is part of the many training opportunities that were happening in Abu Dhabi.
As Brad Henry put it, “Families are the compass that guides us. They are the inspiration to reach great heights, and our comfort when we occasionally falter”, and true to these words families have been found to be the most effective way to prevent substance use among children and adolescents. To actualize this, Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Program (DAP), amidst the new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic, availed a heavenly opportunity to thirty (30) of us drawn from Nigeria, Pakistan, Spain, Indonesia, Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Kenya, Togo, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Gambia, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Seychelles. Philippines and Myanmar to attend the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) Family (For Managers & Supervisors).
This Specialty Track gave us overview of the science inherent in family-based prevention and consists of seven courses:
Course 11: Understanding Families: Diversity and Context
Course 12: Interventions with Families- Basic Models and Skills
Course 13: Family-based Interventions: Skills & Evidence-based Programs
Course 14: Interventions with Groups-Management and Processes
Course 15: Barriers and Challenges to Family Interventions
Course 16: Interventions with Families: Ethics, Supervision and Self-Care
Course 17: Monitoring and Evaluations of Family Programs
The family is generally considered one of the most important agents of socialization, and influences its members and especially children. Programs targeting the family in responding to substance use have been found to be most effective. This is because they target whole family and offers skills-building for implementers to participate in such programmes.
For five days, from 12th to 16th May, 2022, this amazing group shared knowledge, experiences, and in the end, the message was loud and clear –it is time to invest in science and research-based approaches for substance use prevention interventions and policies. This training was through interactive individual and group sessions, class exercises, and games. Pre and post tests were administered to evaluate knowledge from the training.
At the end of the training, most of the participants sat for the International Certified Addiction Professional-Prevention (ICAP-P) exams. Worth noting, this was the first cohort to sit for this fully sponsored exam and it is an honor to be proud of.
This training was delivered by an excellent pair of trainers: - Francis Grace H. Duka, Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines and Ms. Susan Maua, Acting Public Education and Advocacy Manager, NACADA Kenya who gave us a grounding in knowledge, skills and competencies to design and implement evidence-based interventions. Kudos! and heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Josephine Choong Lean Keow (Dr. Jo) and her team at Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Program (DAP) ensured that the structure, content and delivery was seamless.