The planning and implementation of prevention activities in Italy are, for the most part, the responsibility of the regions and autonomous provinces; however, the Department for Anti-Drug Policies at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers allocates part of its annual budget to support prevention activities. Prevention of the use of new psychoactive substances among young people is one of the current policy priorities in Italy.
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.
In Italy, universal prevention focuses on licit and illicit substances, but universal campaigns also address gambling and promote road safety and healthy lifestyles. Prevention activities are often implemented in schools by teachers, as well as by local health authorities, law enforcement agencies and private social agencies. They are mostly focused on information provision and awareness raising. Interactive methods and peer-to-peer activities are limited in reach and frequency. Universal prevention activities that target the community focus on young people through the use of peer groups in out-of-school settings, counselling, recreational and cultural activities, and local projects delivered via the media and the internet. Mass media campaigns are a central element of the prevention strategy in Italy, particularly the use of information technology platforms, such as video conferencing and mobile applications.
The Unplugged programme continues to be implemented in several regions and provinces, and the Life Skills Programme (Botvin) has been implemented and evaluated in Lombardy, with encouraging results. Available information shows that family involvement is considered central to all prevention efforts in Italy, and almost all regions have universal prevention projects targeting families, teachers and peers.
Selective prevention activities are mainly aimed at young people at risk of substance use, such as young smokers, and people younger than 25 years who access emergency rooms for acute alcohol intoxication. These activities may be implemented in recreational settings, and they predominantly use informational approaches. They also target immigrants, school dropouts, young offenders, families with problem drug use and/or with mental health problems, and socially and academically marginalised young people.
Indicated prevention is provided by a few local programmes that focus exclusively on substance users. Interventions identify individuals experiencing early signs of substance use and related problem behaviours and aim to prevent and reduce risks of infectious diseases, improve awareness of infectious diseases and reduce the impact of mental disorders in young people.