International Organizers Use Creative Approaches for Drug and Alcohol Facts Week Events

Substance abuse professionals in 16 countries hosted 180 drug and alcohol education programs as part of the 2018 National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week (NDAFW). NIDA and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) cosponsor the international health information program that supports locally planned and hosted school and community events to provide teens with scientific facts about drugs and alcohol.

Former NIDA International Fellows often lead NDAFW events in their countries. NIDA Office of Science Policy and Communications Analyst Brian Marquis said that the fellows use their sometimes-limited resources to effectively engage the prevention, education, and policy communities in their countries, “doing some of the best work we see.” In Burma (Myanmar), former NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow Yu Yu Aung trained 230 youth volunteers for 3 days before they conducted interactive prevention and education sessions for 70,000 adolescents aged 10 to 15 years. She is currently conducting an evaluation of the effort, analyzing data from pre- and post-tests for the intervention and control groups. In Pakistan, former NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow Farheen Naveed directs the Drug Free Pakistan Foundation, which produced animated videos and organized trainings for teachers and parents, school awareness programs, and 2-day youth leadership training. Another former NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow from Pakistan, Salman Shahzad, Ph.D., and his colleagues provided referrals for substance abuse or mental health treatment for participants in a community Walk for Life and conducted school programs for students in grades 5 through 10. In Ukraine, former NIDA Hubert H. Humphrey Fellow Valeriy R. Ryabukha trains teachers in substance abuse prevention and hosted sessions for 10th graders in 15 schools.

Other international events included community programs with youth volunteers, school programs, poster contests, lectures, and trainings for health care professionals. In the Cayman Islands, the National Drug Council organized poster, video, song writing, and photo contests. Pinnacle Medical Services in Lagos, Nigeria, held a statewide contest for students from 20 schools. A community Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education Walk raised money for school sports and scholarships in South Africa. School programs in Zambia featured drama and creative theater performances.

NIDA and NIAAA invite international substance abuse professionals to host events during the 2019 NDAFW, to be held January 22–27. International schools are also invited to participate in Chat Day on January 24, 2019, where students in registered high schools may submit online questions about substance abuse to NIDA and NIAAA experts. For more information, see the NDAFW online guide.