Universal Prevention Curriculum for Substance Use (UPC) Training: School-Based Track for Prevention Implementers in Uganda (Trainers of Trainers), 12th-21st September 2019


Trainers of Trainers (TOTs) Uganda Chapter with Dr. David Basangwa, E.D Butabika Hospital

Psychoactive substance use and substance use disorders (SUDs) continue to be major problems around the world, taking a toll on global health and on social and economic functioning. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reports that, in 2015, about 250 million people between ages 15 and 64 used illicit substances at least once. Of those who use psychoactive substances, a significant number will develop substance use problems or SUDs. The 2015 UNODC survey found that about 29.5 million substance users suffer from SUDs, which means their use is harmful to the point they may experience dependence and require treatment. SUDs contribute significantly to global illness, disability, and death. So, the prevention of substance use and other social problems is a goal that can significantly improve the health and well-being of people around the world. In addition, the World Bank has pointed out that several low-cost interventions can have large-scale effects not only on population health but also on productivity. Thus, prevention can make a difference to the economic welfare of countries especially those in the developing world.

Many approaches, which have been popular e.g., “scare tactics” campaigns, information-only educational approaches, and former users’ testimonials have been found to be ineffective in rigorous research. But research has also found that there are effective interventions and strategies that recognize when, how, and with whom to intervene to make progress in addressing substance use.

Prevention does more than just prevent substance use. Its aim is to promote the healthy and safe development of children and youth to realize their potential and become contributing members of their community and society. The Universal Prevention Curriculum for Substance Use series, is designed to train prevention professionals, working in a range of settings to reach all populations, on research-based strategies developed to strengthen families, schools, community organizations, and other institutions.

The Implementers series includes the CORE course and 7 specialty tracks. This introduction to the Universal Prevention Curriculum series for Implementers is designed to give participants a grounding in the knowledge and skills needed to undertake evidence-based prevention programming at the community level. The CORE is an introduction to the basic processes that underlie addiction and the brain, the basic pharmacology of the psychoactive substances, and the preventive mechanisms that have been found to be effective in more than 30 years of prevention science. Participants in the Implementer series are required to take this course first so they are ready to focus on the subsequent specialty tracks that address the primary settings where prevention practice takes place in communities. These include the family, school, workplace, and community-wide efforts involving environment-based policy, media, community systems, and monitoring and evaluation.

The Colombo Drug Advisory Programme (DAP) organized a training for Prevention Implementers in the CORE Course in May of 2019. DAP then followed up with another training on the Specialty Track 3 of School-Based Prevention Interventions and Policies in September, 2019. Track 3: School-Based Prevention Interventions and Policies is part of the eight-track Interventions.

This training was delivered over 10 days and participants were taken through the following courses:

Course 1 – Role of Schools in Prevention

Course 2 – Building Teams for Comprehensive School Prevention

Course 3 – Creating Substance Use Prevention Policies in Schools (Practicum 1)

Course 4 – Creating a School Prevention Climate

Course 5 – Selecting Evidence-based School Prevention Curricula

Course 6 – Action Planning to Create a Comprehensive Substance Use

Prevention Initiative (Practicum 2)

Course 7 – Positive Classroom Climate (Practicum 3)

Course 8 – Interactive Teaching Skills

Training goals included:

  • Presenting overview of the science underlying school-based prevention interventions and policies and demonstrate the importance of schools for implementing prevention
  • Presenting the three components of school-based prevention: School policy; positive school climate; and substance use prevention curricula for the classroom
  • Describe evidence-based approaches to strengthen school policies, improve school climate, and intervene directly with classroom prevention interventions
  • Provide effective planning approaches for administrators and teachers on how to implement evidence-based prevention in the school;
  • Provide specific skills for teachers primarily on classroom-focused


  • The school plays an important role in preparing children and youth to become fully contributing members of their families, workplaces, communities, and their society asstudents spend most of their time at school than in homes.  Early use of psychoactive substances increases a young person’s chances of more serious substance abuse and addiction.
  • The school environment influences how children and youth perceive the acceptability and benefits of, as well as the harms associated with substance use.
  • The Drug Free and Addiction Prevention School Club was launched at Namirembe Diocese School and education institutions in November. The club shall help to shape attitudes towards responsible behavior in particular towards substance use, teach appropriate pro-social roles and behaviors and reinforce the positive behaviors that children learn at home and in the community and also ensure   demand reduction among students.


Compiled by: Barbara Nakijoba