In terms of national policy documents, drug prevention is one of the key topics of several national planning documents. The National Development Plan 2014-20 emphasises prevention of psychoactive substance use and other addictive behaviours. Prevention of drug use is one of the four pillars of the National Programme on Drug Control and Drug Addiction Restriction 2011-17, and is also an integral part of the Public Health Guidelines 2014-20. In general, drug prevention activities are integrated into broader health promotion activities and are implemented in a decentralised manner. Districts and municipalities play a main role in planning and funding prevention activities implemented outside school curricula.
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.
Environmental strategies in Latvia are mostly focused on restriction of smoking, including electronic cigarettes, and the consumption of alcohol among the general population.
Universal prevention activities prevail, and these are mainly implemented in school settings. Health classes that also address substance use are integrated into the basic national curriculum within the subjects of ‘social sciences’ for grades 1-9 and ‘health education’ in secondary schools. The social sciences classes aim to strengthen pupils’ decision-making capabilities and their ability to overcome peer pressure. The health education classes are optional for all secondary schools and are included in a list of nine subjects, from which educational institutions choose to implement three. Many schools involve medical doctors or other health promotion professionals, police officers and NGOs in their informational and educational activities, primarily in connection with large events such as World AIDS Day, to organise competitions, exhibitions, and so on. Peer education and life skills-based methodologies are mainly used in extracurricular activities. At the community level, universal prevention activities primarily focus on the provision of alternative leisure activities involving the family, training of professionals and organising security services and video surveillance in schools.
Selective prevention mainly targets pupils who do not attend school or have learning problems, adolescents exhibiting high-risk behaviour, those from families where parents use psychoactive substances and juvenile offenders. These activities are primarily implemented by school- or community-based social workers, or NGOs. Indicated prevention is non-existent, while early intervention programmes are regarded as treatment.
Provision of interventions in schools in Latvia (expert ratings)
NBYear of data 2015.