Drug prevention is part of the comprehensive National Health Plan 2009-20 and is detailed in the Estonian White Paper on Drug Prevention Policy. The White Paper states that the primary goals of prevention activities are the reduction of drug use in general and the prevention of drug use among young people or increasing the age at initiation into drug use. Primary universal prevention and the early detection of people at risk of drug dependency (including children) are underlined in the White Paper.
The main organisations carrying out prevention activities fall under the control of Ministry of Social Affairs, Interior, and Education and Science. The integration of drug prevention in the school system varies in scope and reach. Funding for prevention activities is allocated ad hoc and based on short-term projects. Training for decision-makers, policymakers and opinion leaders working in the prevention field at both the local and national levels took place in 2018 within the framework of the EU-funded project UPC-Adapt.
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, restricting the consumption and possession of alcoholic beverages by minors and regulating the retail sale of alcoholic beverages.
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. International prevention programmes, such as the Good Behaviour Game and KiVa, are increasingly promoted and implemented in Estonia. Other school-based activities include the Incredible Years family-based prevention programme and Multi-Dimensional Family Therapy. 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. SPIN is a community-based prevention programme, with a strong emphasis on sports, that is accessible to young people from deprived areas. It aims to provide additional opportunities for children to spend their free time meaningfully, while at the same time learning socials skills that are necessary for their daily lives.
Indicated prevention activities in Estonia target young people who are in contact with juvenile committees in the north of the country; however, they reach a limited number of beneficiaries.