The main objectives and features of Bulgaria’s drug use prevention policy are the following: the expansion of systematic health education in the field of secondary education; the development and implementation of programmes targeting children and young people; the establishment and training of multidisciplinary teams; the implementation of media campaigns; the expansion of sport and tourism programmes for children and young people; and the development and implementation of programmes for high-risk groups and activities to integrate them into the community. National and municipal authorities share responsibility for the planning and implementation of prevention activities.
A total of 27 municipal drug councils implement the national drug policy at local level and are supported by prevention and information centres. These centres collect and analyse data and inform the design, implementation and coordination of municipal programmes and strategies. In addition, local committees on juvenile delinquency play a role in the implementation of some of the objectives of the national prevention policy.
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 substance use problems and indicated prevention focuses on at-risk individuals.
Universal prevention is implemented mainly through the education system and is coordinated by the Ministry of Education and Science. The principal objectives of school-based prevention are to provide information and create a protective school environment. Most of the health education interventions implemented in schools combine life skills and peer education; however, some interventions targeting parents are also available. Manual-based, school-based prevention programmes are rare, and available programmes are usually designed or adapted for implementation at a local level. Families are increasingly involved in general universal prevention activities. In communities, municipal youth information and counselling centres implement health promotion projects targeting young people. These activities mainly promote the adoption of a healthy lifestyle.
Selective prevention mostly targets at-risk children, young people and families and is often based on the provision of information and training programmes, although peer-to-peer education models are also used. Groups identified as targets for prevention activities include young people and children with special educational needs and those from ethnic minority communities. In 2009, Bulgaria was the 14th EU Member State to introduce the pan-European telephone number for children at risk, although this telephone service is better known as a source of information and emotional support for broader issues that affect the rights of children. Less than 1 % of calls are linked to drug-related issues. The National Addiction Centre also operates a free-of-charge helpline for substance-related problems.
Indicated prevention is limited to training health, social and educational professionals on how to screen and implement early and short interventions. Since 2012, a day centre for counselling children, young people and parents on dependency problems has operated in Sofia.