Although various preventive measures are taken against drug use and almost everyone nowadays knows that drug use is harmful, the number of people who use marijuana, amphetamines, synthetic drugs, etc. keeps growing in Latvia and in the world. As we approach the International Day against Drug Abuse (26 June), Aelita Vagale, assistant and psychologist, RSU Faculty of Public Health and Social Welfare, Department of Health Psychology and Paedagogy, raises the issue of what preventive measures against drug abuse there exist and reveals simple truth how to avoid drug usage.
Is there a method that could reduce the number of drug users and prevent the harm caused by drugs? Unfortunately, the vaccine against drugs is not invented – such situation “that the people who had received the vaccine do not use the drugs” does not exist. However, there are three types of prevention which are implemented and which are important in the fight against drugs.
“The first is universal prevention, and it addresses all the members of the society who know that drug use is bad, but it is a reminder to prevent their thoughts on the possible use of drugs and to inform them of the dangers. And all of us receive it when walking along the street and seeing reminding posters, talking to people, etc.”, says psychologist, RSU assistant Aelita Vagale. Universal prevention includes also other activities: sports, events organised with an anti-drug theme, a variety of educational campaigns and projects.
“The task of selective prevention is to select those people who are at risk and who might be more susceptible to drug use. It is work at schools and work with people who have behavioural or psychological problems, because they form a risk group for drug use, and they should receive specific help so that the idea of drug use is not up to date.
Indicated prevention is intended for those who have used drugs. The task of this prevention is to protect the public and the people who have taken the drugs from the consequences of drug use and prevent relapse (recurrence).
In fact, all these three types of prevention are carried out but their effectiveness depends on whether the prevention is based on the evidence and whether it has sufficient funding and whether it is regular. It should be said that very often preventive measures are ineffective if they are taken periodically or if one lecture is given at school and it is called prevention”, emphasises Vagale when speaking about effective prevention.
“Since prevention is the way to protect people from a disease or a harmful effect, there are two effective ways how everyone can protect themselves from drug use. The first is very simple – not to buy and not to use drugs. The second way is to remember that all the effects that can be achieved with drugs can also be achieved in other ways. For example, if a person wants to feel dizzy, he can fall in love or blow up 20 balloons. If a person wants to relax, he can take a hot bath or enjoy nature. If a person wants to achieve any other effects, then certainly there are ways how to achieve them without drugs. By this I want to say that the most effective prevention is the person’s own responsibility for what he does and his concern about his own health”, she finally adds.