Drug prevention is one of the key topics of several national planning documents in Latvia. The National Development Plan 2014-20 emphasises the prevention of psychoactive substance use and other addictive behaviours. Prevention of drug use is one of the four pillars of the National Programme on Drug Control and Drug Addiction Restriction 2011-17, and is also an integral part of the Public Health Guidelines 2014-20.
In general, drug prevention activities are integrated into broader health promotion activities and are implemented in a decentralised manner. Districts and municipalities play the main role in planning and funding prevention activities implemented outside school curricula.
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 strategies in Latvia are mostly focused on the restriction of smoking, including of electronic cigarettes, and the consumption of alcohol among the general population. These strategies include limiting the sale of alcohol in large-volume packaging, and a gradual increase in the tax on tobacco products. From 2017, excise tax on alcohol and tobacco is due to increase every year until 2020.
Universal prevention strategies are implemented through the schools study programme, while projects and other activities are often implemented outside school hours. The emphasis is on supporting educators; for example, training seminars on the prevention of addiction have been organised in support of teachers and methodological materials and teaching materials for prevention work in schools have been developed. Many schools involve medical doctors or other health promotion professionals, police officers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in their informational and educational activities. Peer education and life skills-based methodologies are mainly used in extracurricular activities. At community level, universal prevention activities primarily focus on the provision of alternative leisure activities involving the family, the training of professionals, and organising security services and video surveillance in schools. The National Network of Health-Promoting Local Governments aims to promote good practice, exchange experiences and ideas, and provide support for prevention. It now comprises 112 local governments. A similar network for schools has 99 institutions involved.
Selective prevention in Latvia targets children and young people with behavioural problems, children and young people from socially disadvantaged families (including those whose parents have addiction problems), co-addicted persons and people who have violated the law (preventative work is carried out if the offence is related to the use of psychoactive substances). For the most part, universal prevention programmes are adapted to these groups and their special needs. There is no indicated prevention in the country.