In Poland, drug prevention activities are governed by the National Health Programme 2016-20 and the National Drug Strategy 2016-20. An important element of the strategy is the increased emphasis on improving the quality of drug prevention programmes, as well as the competencies of programme providers. Prevention activities are implemented by government administration units (competent ministries and subordinate agencies), as well as local and regional governments. The Ministry of National Education and the Centre for Educational Development (ORE) are responsible for universal drug prevention in schools, and an anti-drug action plan has been adopted to improve the quality of drug prevention activities in schools and educational facilities.
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 Poland, schools and other units within the framework of the education system are obliged to implement a school prevention programme for children and young people. Health education is part of the core curriculum. Educational settings are also encouraged to adopt health-promoting school principles to strengthen students’ normative beliefs and psychosocial skills as protective factors against drug use. The National Bureau for Drug Prevention supported the nationwide dissemination of the Unplugged programme, a universal drug prevention programme that targets students aged 12-14 years. The evaluation of this programme in Poland demonstrated it had a positive impact, leading to a reduction in cannabis and alcohol consumption by reducing positive beliefs and attitudes regarding addictive substances and improving knowledge and competence among parents. In 2017, programmes for parents and teachers were also supported to strengthen educational and other skills needed to cope with drug dependence in the family. Activities included educational and awareness classes for families on the mechanisms of drug dependence and co-dependence, family counselling, crisis interventions, support groups for families, educational skills workshops and legal assistance/consultations.
Selective prevention programmes are mainly concerned with risk reduction, the promotion of healthy lifestyles and assistance in crises related to substance use for socially excluded children and adolescents. In 2017, more than 40 selective programmes were implemented and the early intervention programme ‘FreD goes net’ was further disseminated. The programme’s main focus is the reduction of substance use among adolescents who have committed drug-related offences. Some programmes targeting occasional drug users in recreational settings are also available.
Indicated prevention activities mostly encourage and help to maintain abstinence from drugs, prevent further development of substance dependence, shape adequate normative beliefs regarding drugs and promote healthy lifestyles. A total of 38 prevention programmes feature awareness activities concerning drugs.