Adopted in 2018, the goal of the National Programme for Control and Prevention of Drugs, Tobacco and Alcohol is to create a healthier and safer society in which each individual may be rendered assistance to avoid harm incurred by alcohol, tobacco and drug use or to reduce it. In 2017, 47 public health bureaus carried out their activities in the municipalities of the Republic of Lithuania. They promote a healthy lifestyle and organise and implement the measures for tobacco, alcohol, narcotic and psychotropic substance use prevention in the community. Lithuanian municipalities also have commissions for drug control that coordinate actions in relation to drug prevention and control.
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 Lithuania, environmental prevention activities aim to ensure safe living and school environments, through the implementation of policies that limit access to licit substances for under-age people and the organisation of safe neighbourhood groups that support community policing actions. Substance-specific environmental prevention efforts are focused on preventing alcohol and tobacco use.
Since September 2017, schools have been obliged to ensure that each student participates, on a permanent basis, in at least one coherent, long-term prevention programme aimed at developing social and emotional competencies, covering prevention of violence, alcohol, tobacco and psychoactive substance use, and encouragement of a healthy lifestyle. Teaching staff are obliged at least once every 4 years to raise their level of qualification in the area of development of social and emotional competencies of the students. Long-term preventive programmes are increasingly becoming part of the day-to-day activities of teachers, social pedagogues and psychologists, with a view to focus school-based prevention on science-based measures.
Lithuanian schools implement the universal prevention programme Prevention of Use of Alcohol, Tobacco and Psychoactive Substances, which is adapted to each age group. Other programmes for developing the life and social skills of children are used in educational settings, and a number of methodological materials and training activities for teachers are also available. Examples include the ‘Zip’s Friends’ programme, an early prevention and socio-emotional development course targeting pre-school and children in their first year of primary school. The international programme ‘Unplugged’, which increases children’s social communication skills and critical thinking, is also implemented in selected schools. A number of schools offer a special programme to children whose parents use psychoactive substances. Universal prevention activities are also carried out in public health bureaus, public institutions, youth centres and places where young people congregate, mainly through the provision of alternative leisure activities and by engaging young people in educational programmes. Several programmes for parents are available through school settings.
In recreational settings, prevention activities are initiated primarily by the police, while nightclubs tend to apply measures to prevent the admission of under-age people and maintain a safe physical environment. In 2017, the ‘Be Safe Lab’ project was launched to establish a safer environment at festivals and to inform visitors of safe behaviour concerning psychoactive substance use.
With regard to indicated prevention, in 2017, a decision was adopted to implement an Early Intervention Programme in all municipalities; this is a short-term intervention course (lasting 8 hours) for young people aged 14-21 years who use drugs and/or alcohol. A Lithuanian version of the ‘FreD goes net project’ was launched in 2013.