International Youth Day 2020

In 1999, the 12th of August was declared International Youth Day.

Since then, the day has been dedicated to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.

2020 Theme: Youth Engagement for Global Action

The commemoration of IYD 2020 will take the form of a podcast-style discussion led by youth for youth. Creative elements, such as spoken word artists, will also be utilized to break up the substantive discussions. 

Women Involvement in Illicit Drug Trade and Substance Abuse

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Women involvement in illicit drug trade and substance abuse is a sensitization programme that will focus on informing women of the dangers that will arise when involved in drug activities or misuse.

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Attitudes towards Cough Syrup Abuse: A Study of Adolescents in Southwest, Nigeria

One area of substance misuse among adolescents that is currently a problem, and has not been fully understood in the Nigerian context is the attitudes of adolescents towards cough syrup abuse. Thus, to inform policy actions for reducing cough syrup abuse among Nigerian adolescents, this study explored the attitudes of adolescents towards cough syrup abuse in two Southwest states of Nigeria, where substance abuse is rampant.

By a stratified sampling method, 302 adolescents (152 males, 150 females; mean age = 13.61 years, SD = 2.09) were selected from secondary schools in Lagos and Oyo states, Nigeria, and data were collected using existing questionnaires with strong psychometric properties, and the response rate was 97.42%. Four (4) hypotheses were stated and tested using independent sample t-test and correlation statistics at p<0.05.

The findings from the study concluded that, adolescents’ age and family marital structure were the variables found that significantly accounted for their attitudes towards cough syrup abuse, thus it is imperative enough that as adolescents are growing older, they are rightly guided against giving into substance abuse. Also, parents/caregivers of adolescents need to be actively involved in educating adolescents on the hazards associated with substance abuse.


The Church of Uganda has instituted a programme that will help young people to protect themselves from alcoholism and drug abuse. The programme Drug Free Schools was launched by the outgoing Arch Bishop , the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, at Mengo  Senior School on Saturday the 15th of February 2020. Speaking to students, teachers and partners that graced the function, Ntagali said that drug abuse among young people in schools was on rise, which was why the Church had decided to act against the vice.

The Coordinator of the Church of Uganda ‘Drug –Free Schools’ Programme, Ezra Tumuhirwe, said the initiative is expected to cover 500 secondary schools by 2026.

The KCCA acting Director of Public Health and Environment, Dr. Daniel Ayen Okello, asked young people to seek the guidance of their parents, teachers and religious leaders when they got problems, instead of turning to drugs. Dr. Okello told the youth that nobody should make them feel lesser than they are and reminded them that they were created in God’s image.

The Principal regulatory officer of medicines at the National Drug Authority (NDA), Brian Sekayombya, said the authority would continue to work with schools and other stakeholders to eliminate alcoholism and drug abuse. Other participants in this event included; Church of Uganda province Secretariat, the Rev. Paul Kakooza and Dr. Nazarius Tumwesigye from Makerere University College of Health Sciences.

The function which was graced by a number of dignitaries and the event kicked off with a solidarity march by students and teachers of Gayaza High School, Mengo Senior School, King’s College Buddo, Nsangi S.S, Mwereerwe S.S, Wampeewo Ntakke, Entebbe S.S and Kira S.S.

The students were also given an opportunity to presented poems, music and drama items on alcoholism and drug abuse during this event as well.

Students during the march



Group photo of participants and the Arch Bishop

Promoting Positive Adolescent Health Behaviors and Outcomes: Thriving in the 21st Century (2020)

This new consensus document from the U.S. National Academy of Medicine outlines recent research on adolescent development and makes recommendations to U.S. stakeholders for improving outcomes for adolescents. While the recommendations are mostly for a U.S. audience, the information on positive adolescent development is useful for everyone interested in prevention.

Shattering Substance Use Myths on Campus

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United States

College and university staff and students can work together on educational events that provide science-based facts about drugs and alcohol to help students make informed decisions. Learn how you can join the 10th anniversary of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW) and how your campus can get involved. Spots in this webinar are limited. Registration requires the creation of a free account. NASPA is an association supporting student affairs professionals in higher education.

February 6, 2020   |  2:00 PM - 3:00 PM (Eastern Time)

Cost: Free

Duration: 60 minutes

Type: Live briefing

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Counselling Emerging Adults With Substance Use Disorders

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Substance use developmentally peaks during emerging adulthood (ages 18-25). Many emerging adults who develop problematic substance use during this developmental period have been exposed to environmental, individual, and interpersonal stressors throughout the life that places them at risk for ongoing difficulties with substance use as they transition to adulthood. This transition into substance use interfaces with the five features of emerging adulthood. The helping professional, however, is left with the dilemma on how to proceed in addressing substance use disorders in emerging adults. This webinar will enable the participants to work more effectively when counselling emerging adults with substance use disorders.

Learning Objectives
  • Leave with a working definition and understanding of emerging adulthood in conjunction with the five features of emerging adulthood.
  • Understand the five reasons substance use increases in emerging adulthood.
  • Learn seven skills in counselling emerging adults with substance use disorders.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020 @ 3-4:30pm ET (2CT/1MT/12PT)

Why is Adolescent Drinking Declining?

There has been a notable decline in adolescent drinking in developed nations over the past two decades. Understanding the reasons behind this positive downward trend will help professionals support the continuation of this decline into the future.

A recent systematic review, published in the Addiction Research & Theory, has examined potential factors that have contributed to fewer adolescents consuming alcohol.

The researchers proposed the following potential explanations for declines in youth drinking:

  • Changing social norms
  • Substitution with other substances
  • Changes in parental practices
  • Demographic changes
  • Changes in leisure time and increased use of digital technology
  • Changes in alcohol policy and preventive interventions
  • Change in exposure to alcohol advertising
  • Broader shifts in adolescent lifestyles
  • Economic changes

Following a systematic elimination procedure, the researchers analysed 14 papers as part of the review.

Results from the study found that:

  • There was strong evidence to suggest that the decline could be partly explained by parents adopting different practices- these changes included reducing supply and increased monitoring.
  • There was limited evidence and mixed results regarding the impact of alcohol policies in driving the decline in adolescent drinking
  • There seemed to be little evidence to suggest that the financial crisis in 2007–08 influenced the decline in adolescent drinking.
  • There was no evidence to support drug substitution as a reason for declines in adolescent drinking.

Overall, the researchers concluded that changing parenting practices seemed to be the factor that has been causing the decrease in alcohol consumption amongst adolescents. However, the authors admitted that "there is a lack of robust evidence for any of the explanations studied so far" and further research is required in order to identify the relationship between factors influencing adolescent drinking behaviour.

Webinar: Fostering Healthy Mental, Emotional, and Behavioural Development in Children and Youth

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Please join the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine for the release of the new report, Fostering Healthy Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Development in Children and Youth: A National Agenda. The authoring committee was charged with studying key advances and persistent challenges since the publication of the 2009 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, Preventing Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People: Progress and Possibilities. The release will include an overview of the study process and discussion of the report’s conclusions, recommendations, and key messages. 

Sep 11, 2019 01:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use among Young People in England

Key FactsThe National Health Service has been closely following the smoking, drinking and drug use trends amongst young people in England.

The series of surveys began in 1982. The most recent 2018 survey questioned 13,664 year 7 to 11 pupils, mostly aged 11 to 15, from 193 schools across England, between September 2018 and February 2019.

Data has been collected and analysed on:

UNODC takes an active role in the 2019 Society for Prevention Research Annual Conference

UNODC participated at the Society for Prevention Research Annual Conference held in San Francisco, 28-30 May 2019. UNODC presented in total 3 posters, one on the development of fidelity checklists, in particular, to measure fidelity of the Universal Prevention Curriculum Delivery in Pakistan. A poster on Strong Families and the multisite pilot of an open sourced family skills programme which was designed for challenged and humanitarian settings was also presented. This poster included a research presentation at the event. In addition, a scientific poster on developing prevention through sports settings was introduced, specifically of a multi-site trial of a sports-based life skills programme for the prevention of drugs, crime, and violence amongst youth. 

As a panelist on the Society for Prevention Research Annual International Committee Roundtable, UNODC presented on how to link prevention science to practice through training substance use prevention professionals on evidence-based interventions and policies.

Drinking Trends of Young People Not in Education, Employment or Training: A Qualitative Study

Recent trends both in the UK and also more widely in an international context suggest underage drinking is declining amongst young people. However, it is believed some groups of young people are not following this trend.

A recent study has analysed the drinking trends of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET). The main aim of the project was to look at the experience of young people NEET, to see how the characteristics of this group have changed and whether this is reflected in their drinking patterns.

Interviews were conducted with 16 young people (aged 15-19).

The themes that emerged on analysis of the interviews were:

Many of the young people interviewed reported that they drank little or no alcohol.

  • The young people reflected on early experimental drinking behaviour which they had now ‘grown out of.’
  • For a small number drinking was not celebratory but rather a way of coping with stressful life experiences
  • Drinking was linked with being invited to social events and popularity
  • Exposure to drunkenness and risky behaviour tended to occur in their early teens. Where young people used to drink in parks, now there was more street drinking.
  • The influence of social media in encouraging drinking was seen as being mostly on younger teenagers
  • Images of drunkenness and being out of control on social media were given as reasons not to drink rather than being seen as encouraging drinking.

In summary, although young people described as NEET are drinking less, harmful behaviour as a result of alcohol is still happening and at younger ages.

The overall message of young people drinking less should not detract from the minority of young people drinking as a form of coping who require targeted support.

Youth Perspective on Parental Approaches to Substance Use

Reducing the harms of youth substance use is a global priority. Parents have the potential to play a key role in these efforts. However, it is felt that parents are often unsure about how to address substance use with their children. Parent responses to youth substance use are often grounded in abstinence and critiqued as ineffective and unresponsive to youth contexts.

In order to develop effective parent-targeted interventions, it is important to hear young people’s perspective.

A recent study has sought to capture youth perspectives on parental approaches to substance use. The researchers conducted 83 interviews with young people aged 13-18. 

Results were analysed in terms of themes within each research site: The City, The Valley, and The North

The City

  • In the city parents and caregivers were more likely to accept their substance use, but in moderation and with defined limits
  • Young people who were permitted alcohol within limits described resisting consuming excessive alcohol to become drunk
  • Complete freedom was viewed by participants as ineffective for supporting youth in developing strategies for self-management of substance use

The Valley

  • In the Valley, participants’ families were more likely to address substance use through a zero-tolerance or abstinence-based approach
  • Some youth felt their parents were oblivious to the possibility of youth substance use
  • Zero-tolerance approaches were frequently described as a disconnect from the realities of young people’s substance use

The North

  • In The North, youth described substance use as common in town
  • Participants’ descriptions of their community highlighted the prevalence of substance use.
  • Many participants described their parents’ substance use as shaping the family context for substance use
  • Many families attempted to navigate their children’s use by encouraging open communication and responsible use

These results illustrate the view that abstinence-only messages are not realistic in terms of the realities of youth experiences. The findings instead suggest that the most effective messages for reducing alcohol-related harm were the ones that supported youth to use alcohol within limits.

Webinar: How Do Co-occurring Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Affect Young People?

This webinar will present an update on research into co-occurring mental and substance use disorders among young people in Australia.

It will ask:

  • how many young people experience co-occurring mental and substance use disorders?
  • What is the impact?
  • And what are the implications for research, prevention and treatment?

It will include a discussion of some recent trends in drug and alcohol use among young Australians, changing gender patterns across the world, and will raise some questions for future directions in research and prevention of mental and substance use disorders.

This webinar will draw on the latest research to provide a big picture view of the changing landscape of mental and substance use disorders in Australia and what it means for young people. 

Key Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about patterns of co-occurring mental and substance use disorders among young people in Australia
  2. Explore how these patterns are changing
  3. Discuss the implications for research, prevention and treatment

Better Prevention of Drug Use, Healthy and Safe Development of Children in Belarus

UNODC had the honour of facilitating a seminar for policy makers in Belarus at the request of the Ministry of Interior of the country.  The event was organised with the support of the UN Resident Coordinator and the contribution of UNAIDS, UNFPA and UNICEF. More than 40 policy makers, including representatives from the Ministry of Education, Information and Health, as well as CSOs were present at the training. Participants worked together over three days to discuss how to improve the national system for the prevention of drug use and other risky behaviours on the basis of the UNODC/WHO Second Updated Edition of the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention. In its session about national systems that are supportive of evidence-based prevention, the seminar highlighted ISSUP, as well as UPC as a crucial resource at the disposal of Member States, policy makers and practitioners. Evidence-based prevention means supporting the healthy and safe development of children: learn more at and follow us on Twitter @unodc_ptrs.

UNODC Partnership with Lions Club to Develop Personal and Social Skills of Adolescents

The UNODC/WHO Second Update Edition of the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention identifies evidence-based education on personal and social skills as one of the effective strategies to prevent drug use and other risky behaviours in early adolescence. We also know from the work of the WHO Violence Prevention Alliance that such programmes have been found to be effective in preventing youth violence ( This is why UNODC was delighted to attend the Lions Day at the UN at the assembly hall of the Palais des Nation in Geneva on April 10, 2019, presenting on our collaboration with the Lions Club International Foundation. This long-standing initiative has piloted Lions Quest Skills for Adolescence in South East Europe, Central America and West Africa, leading to measurable prevention of use and improvement of personal and social skills of thousands of students.
Follow us on Twitter: @unodc_ptrs

La prevención en manos de los jóvenes: Herramientas pedagógicas en prevención del consumo de sustancias psicoactivas y mitigación de su impacto, para líderes de organizaciones juveniles

El Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social entrega a los jóvenes este documento de prevención y mitigación del impacto del consumo de sustancias psicoactivas (SPA), para que sean los mismos jóvenes quienes den las respuestas adecuadas a este fenómeno del consumo de SPA, aprovechando la contundencia de la imagen, la confianza de la cercanía estética, el reconocimiento del segmento etario, la eficacia de la similitud verbal, la jerga y la lingüística, entre otros tantos factores que definen la juventud. Es importante señalar que esta herramienta hace parte de un proceso que dió en el marco del plan operativo de la Política Nacional para la Reducción del Consumo de SPA y su Impacto, y es resultado de los esfuerzos mancomunados de entidades como  el Ministerio de Salud y Protección Social y la Oficina de Naciones Unidas contra la Droga y el Delito en Colombia – UNODC. 

Los beneficiarios y aliados principales para la ejecución del proceso que acá se propone han sido los jóvenes líderes de organizaciones juveniles, pues la formación a través de pares es el pilar fundamental de esta herramienta pedagógica, que se vale de la proximidad entre quien posee la información y quien la recibe, para hacerlo de una manera más eficaz. Así, ofrecemos esta herramienta de prevención y mitigación del consumo de sustancias psicoactivas, que se espera continúe en un proceso de permanente construcción y multiplicación con ustedes, los y las jóvenes del país

Reducción del consumo de sustancias psicoactivas en el ámbito universitario

El Ministerio Justicia y del Derecho, en asocio con la Oficina de las Naciones Unidas contra la Droga y el Delito (UNODC), viene liderando el desarrollo de herramientas prácticas que contribuyan a mejorar el quehacer preventivo y de mitigación en ámbitos en los que se encuentran las poblaciones de mayor vulnerabilidad al consumo de sustancias psicoactivas en Colombia. Para ello se han construido Marcos Técnicos de Acción, cada uno con una serie de herramientas dirigidas a población universitaria, población privada de la libertad y jóvenes en contextos de vulnerabilidad socio-económica.

Drug Demand Reduction (1105) Drug policy, young people (97)

The Increased Trend of Non-drinking Alcohol Among Adolescents: What Role Do Internet Activities Have?

Youth alcohol consumption is declining across many European counties, often alongside similar decreasing trends in drug use and smoking. One of the explanations as to why we are seeing these patterns is that adolescents do not drink alcohol because they spend more time indoors on the internet.

Researchers in Sweden have conducted a study, published in the European Journal of Mental Health, analysing whether different internet activities are linked with non-drinking in a sample of 7089 Swedish adolescents (15-16 years). 

Percentage of Young People non-drinking and internet activities
Percentage of young people not drinking and using the internet for more than 2 hours per day. Click here to view the original table.

The study examined activity such as total time spent on computers, social media use and computer gaming, as well as changes in alcohol consumption from 2008-2012, and differences between girls and boys.

Results found an increase in the number of young people not drinking and an increase in internet use across all types of activity from 2008-2012.

Further bivariate modelling showed:

  • Total computer watching decreased the probability of non-drinking among girls and boys 
  • Social media decreased the probability of non-drinking among both boys and girls 
  • Computer gaming increased the likelihood of non-drinking among both boys and girls

These results do not confirm the idea that the decline in alcohol use is linked with total increased use of the internet. However, they do suggest playing computer games is associated with a decrease in drinking. The researchers suggest that the reason the increase in social media use is not linked with a decline in drinking behaviour is that there are more alcohol references and marketing on these sites. These results offer one potential explanation into the current trends we are seeing in Europe.

Webinar: How to Leverage Partnerships for Communities

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SAMHSA’s Underage Drinking Prevention Education Initiatives (UADPEI) invites you to join national experts on March 20 to learn about leveraging partnerships in planning/hosting a Communities Talk: Town Hall Meeting to Prevent Underage Drinking (Communities Talk) event. 

This webinar will provide community-based organisations and institutions of higher education with the opportunity to gather recommendations and ask questions of presenters.

Wednesday | March 20, 2019 | 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET