The current national drug policy defines a number of actions in the area of drug prevention and puts an emphasis on the promotion of healthy lifestyle.
The Foundation for Social Welfare Services and the Foundation for Medical Services implement prevention activities in close cooperation with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Sedqa has established a number of prevention interventions. The NGOs Caritas and the OASI Foundation run a range of prevention programmes that target specific groups or settings, such as schoolchildren, peers, parents, the community and the workplace, while the Anti-Substance Abuse Unit within the Education Division also carries out interventions in the school environment. Few interventions are evaluated.
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 activities in Malta are mainly limited to tobacco control policies and restrictions of smoking in public places.
Universal prevention is primarily implemented in school settings, where interventions begin at primary school level and continue into secondary schools. Prevention activities in primary schools focus on friendship and peer pressure, with some introductory information on the possible problems that tobacco and alcohol use can cause. Interventions in secondary schools are designed to develop life skills, self-esteem, decision-making and problem-solving skills and resistance to peer pressure. The messages focus on encouraging abstinence from tobacco, alcohol and drugs, with the aim of preventing the development of any long-term harmful use of these substances.
Universal family-based prevention programmes in an interactive environment generally tackle topics related to parenthood, such as leadership styles, communication and child development, and include discussions on drug and alcohol abuse. Community-based prevention programmes primarily target families and young people in local councils, youth organisations, religious societies and social and political clubs.
Selective prevention interventions are mainly school based and focus on students with high levels of absenteeism and those who have dropped out of school. Other interventions include outreach work targeting young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods. A new nationwide initiative, the Leap Project, which is funded through the European Social Fund, was launched in 2014 and has the aim of consolidating community resources and networks to address social exclusion issues. Other target groups are young people in schools in deprived areas, juvenile prison inmates and young offenders. Interventions for these groups occur mainly as a result of referrals to drug treatment agencies. Appogg and Sedqa have brought together professionals from several fields and have developed a project that aims to offer individual guidance and counselling to adolescents who are referred for support. The support offered by this project is also available to the parents and partners of the young people referred to the services. The unit also offers crisis intervention when homelessness or abuse is involved. The programme aims to build a network of support by joining forces with other institutions and professionals involved with the young person in question. Two online services that allow children and young people to ask for assistance and report any type of abuse have been created (kellimni.com and Be Smart Online).
Provision of interventions in schools in Malta (expert ratings)
NBYear of data 2015.