In Cyprus, prevention and health promotion constitute some of the most important elements of the National Strategy on Illicit Substances Dependence and the Harmful Use of Alcohol for 2013-20, which prioritises targeted prevention and proposes support for universal and environmental prevention activities. The CAC is responsible for monitoring the implementation of prevention and intervention programmes through its accreditation, evaluation and funding procedures (where possible).
Prevention interventions encompass a wide range of approaches, which are complementary. Environmental and universal strategies target entire populations, selective prevention targets vulnerable groups that may be at greater risk of developing drug use problems, and indicated prevention focuses on at-risk individuals.
The environmental prevention interventions in Cyprus are aimed at the protection of health through legislative measures (i.e. anti-smoking legislation and the Health and Safety at Work Act) and actions to ensure compliance with the Sales of Alcoholic Beverages Legislation.
Universal prevention is the most common mode of prevention implemented in school settings, targeting mainly lower and higher secondary school students. The prevention activities in schools are implemented as part of the health promotion education programme. School-based programmes mostly focus on the raising of awareness and providing information about drugs, while some of them address the development of personal and social skills. The Fred Goes to School Programme, which is an adaptation of the FreD Goes Net programme, is an ongoing project carried out in school settings targeting young smokers and students who use alcohol.
In 2015, a total of 28 prevention programmes were accredited through the CAC accreditation process. The majority of the programmes were implemented at the national level and their core components were information about licit psychoactive substances; self-development; strengthening self-esteem; enhancement of resilience; attitude change; improvement of communication; and training of teachers. The age range for the target group was 6-22 years.
In the past few years, special attention has been given to accelerating the implementation of targeted selective and indicated prevention activities. Therefore, the support of vulnerable groups is one of the main priorities in the prevention pillar of the national strategy, which specifies the following high-risk groups: early school leavers; students/soldiers who use licit and illicit substances; inmates’ children; children whose parents face mental health problems; the unemployed and people with drug problems; and pregnant women who use licit or illicit substances. Efforts are made to promote the implementation of these programmes in high-risk areas, to identify those who need support at early stages and to refer them to appropriate services. In 2015, eight selective programmes were funded.
Indicated prevention takes place through the Protocol of Cooperation for the Referral of Young Offenders to the Treatment Centres, which was established between the Cyprus Police though the Drug Law Enforcement Unit (DLEU), the Sovereign Base Areas Police and the Ministry of Health. The aims of the protocol are to provide an alternative to prosecution for young drug offenders (arrested for the first time); to give young drug users the opportunity of an early intervention or a more intensive treatment programme, according to their needs; and to promote policies aiming at alternatives to prosecution/ imprisonment.
Provision of interventions in schools in Cyprus (expert ratings)
NBYear of data 2015.