The White Paper on Drug Prevention Policy sets out in detail the objectives for drug use prevention in Estonia until 2018. These include prevention and delay of initiation of drug use and strengthening the early detection and intervention system. Prevention activities are implemented mostly under the supervision of the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Education, while other ministries and agencies cooperate with local governments to provide support and funding. Recently, the Ministry of the Interior has put greater emphasis on and more resources towards the primary prevention of drug dependency and has initiated a number of new evidence-based approaches, such as the Good Behaviour Game, Spin, etc.
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.
Environmental prevention activities in Estonia focus on tobacco and alcohol control.
Universal prevention activities are mainly implemented in school settings. Life skills-based education is integrated into the human studies curricula for grades 2, 5 and 8. Internationally recognised prevention programmes are increasingly promoted and implemented in Estonia. A Swedish alcohol prevention programme, Effekt, addressing fifth-grade students and their parents, has been implemented within the Estonian health-promoting school network. The programme, first implemented among slightly older pupils and their parents, has had a noticeable impact on reducing episodes of drunkenness among children and has had a positive effect on children’s antisocial behaviour. With the support of the Ministry of the Interior, some schools introduced the Good Behaviour Game in 2014/15. This programme has proved to be effective in preventing school dropout as well as criminal and other risky behaviours. The programme Incredible Years was introduced in 2014 and addresses parenting skills. Special publications, various websites, awareness campaigns on Facebook and training activities in workplaces also target parents. The website Tark vanem (Smart parent) provides reading material and interactive advice. A number of youth centres across Estonia, funded by the Ministry of Education and Research, provide drug prevention information and counselling to young people.
The website of the National Institute of Health Development provides the general public with information on drug-related issues.
Selective prevention activities target children who are at risk and their parents, as well as young people in specialised educational settings. These include activities to promote the adoption of healthy behaviour, to strengthen coping and social skills, and to facilitate self-expression through artistic activities. The Spin programme, which is similar to the Kickz programme developed in the United Kingdom, aims to create alternative leisure activities for children in high-risk groups.
The only indicated prevention activities in Estonia target minors and young people who are in contact with juvenile committees in the north of the country; however, the number of beneficiaries of this programme remains small.