UNODC Youth Initiative


UNODC Youth Initiative logo

Our mission is to empower and connect youth from around the globe to become active in their schools, communities and youth groups for the prevention of substance abuse. This site will help equip young people with resources and opportunities to help them make the best  decisions for themselves and impact their communities on issues related to drugs.

We know our world's youth have lots of great ideas and can make a positive impact on the world. We want to help give them a voice, not just to peers and local communities, but also to leaders of international organization and policy makers from around the globe.

We have launched a Facebook Page to connect with youth from around the globe! We'll be hosting a variety of discussions, activities, contests, and events throughout the year. Please join us!

The United Nations is committed to working with youth. Below are some resources that may be of use for youth and youth leaders. While we hope these resources will provide a good foundation to learn about issues related to drugs, our real goal is for it to be a starting point for individual discovery processes and leadership in disseminating positive awareness in local and global community.

For questions, comments and ideas, you can also contact us directly under the following E-mail:




DAPC-grants - making the Youth Initiative a reality in your community 

Every year UNODC is able to promote drug prevention in many countries all around the world thanks to the work and generosity of the Drug Abuse Prevention Center (DAPC) in Japan. The youth from DAPC mobilises communities and raises funds that they generously donate to the UNODC to support activities to prevent drug use among youth in low and middle income countries. This is truly from youth, to youth, for youth!

Thanks to DAPC, UNODC will be able to sponsor the Youth Initiative activities of youth groups to initiate projects to empower youth to take more active roles in their communities, to connect to other youth groups working for prevention via Youth Initiative, and to undertake drug prevention activities in line with the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention (, to support the health and wellbeing of their peers and make the Youth Initiative a reality in their schools and communities.


Apply for the 2015 grants!

Please see the summary of criteria for the awarding of the grants, and the instructions on how to apply. We will accept applications until 30 June 2015, midnight (GMT+2 hours)




Youth Initiative Campaign - Get the facts and break the myths!

Globally, myths on substances, drugs use and drug dependence are widely spread and shape the perception of youth on drugs. The aim of this campaign is to provide youth with evidence-based facts on six myths. Fact sheets give youth an overview on scientific information available and include links for them to explore the topics more. Each fact sheet is also followed by a new activity, which asks for different, creative contributions to break the myths. As we would like to encourage youth to get the facts and break the myths globally, we welcome you to read and spread these fact sheets and take part of these exciting activities!


Myth 5:   Information on the dangers of drugs prevents drug use

It is commonly assumed, that spreading information on the danger of drugs prevents drug use, and thus supports the health and wellbeing of youth. This fact sheet aims to discuss the complex ways in which the information we receive, and all the messages we encounter via different forms of media, influence our attitudes, values and behavior - also with regard to substance use. It also aims to show how much more than just spreading information is needed for preventing drug use. In fact spreading messages on dangers of drugs can even lead to opposite outcomes as it can increase curiosity and experimentation with drug use, or in the other hand increase stigmatization of those already using drugs.  Read the fact sheet and break the myth! 

Here is also an idea what to do in your school or peer group to break this myth. Take action and share your results with us!  

Myth 4:  Punishing drug users will help to tackle the world drug problem

When looking at the kind of responses societies have on drug use, punishing drug users seems to be a commonly adopted strategy for tackling with the multiple negative consequences problematic drug use is causing for societies. Other public health issues such as diabetes or mental health conditions are also not tackled by punishing the patients or blaming their parents. So why should drug use related disorders be any different from this? Read the fact sheet and break the myth! 

Here is an idea what to do in your school or peer group to break this myth. Take action and share your results with us!  Or see what other have done for breaking this myth and supporting the mental health of their peers!

Myth 3: Everybody is using drugs

It is very common for youth to think that the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs among their peers is much more common than it actually is - most of the youth tend to overestimate the number of their peers that are using drugs. This fact sheet helps you to understand why the myth 'everybody is using drugs' exists and how it keeps going among your peers. It also gives you some examples of actual percentages of drug use in different regions of the world. Read the fact sheet and break the myth!

For taking action against this common myth, see also this idea on what to do in your class or youth group, and share your results with us via email or in the Facebook, or look here for examples what others have done for addressing this myth.

Myth 2: Addicts made the wrong choice, it is their fault 

In the second fact sheet, we explore the reasons why children and youth start using drugs and, in some cases, develop dependence. Read the fact sheet and break the myth 2!

Here is also a Serbian version of this fact sheet, made by our Serbian youth participant.

Myth 1: Cannabis is harmless

See also the results of the call for activities on Myth 1 - Cannabis is harmless.


DAPC logo

 2014 DAPC grants awarded!

The call of proposals of 2014 DAPC-grants resulted in over 500 proposals! Out of them the below 21 organisations were selected for funding. Congratulations to the winners!

Prevention Center, "Choice" (Ukraine), Association PROI (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Association for re-socialization of former addicts "Proslavis Oporavak" (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Hayat Foundation (Pakistan), Frontier Rural Development Program (Pakistan), Elpis (Moldova), Institute for youth development (Kirgistan), Hope for a Child In Christ (Zimbwabwe), Somaliland Youth Development and Voluntary Organization (Somalia), Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance (Kenya), Women Friendly Initiative (Nigeria), Kimara Peer educators and health promoters trust (Tanzania), Somero (Uganda), Institute for Development, Research, Advocacy and Applied Care (Lebanon), Independent young people alliance foundation (Indonesia), Lhak-Sam (Bhutan), The Dove Foundation (India), Rural Health Organization (India), SAATH (Social Service, Awareness Raising and Advocacy for Tranquility and Humanity) (Nepal), Work And Rural Development (WARD) (Bangladesh), ACCIONA (Mexico).











We are not only the generation of tomorrow, we are the generation of today. We want and we can help!

A group of 50 youth from more than 30 countries gathered in Vienna from 12 to 13 March 2014 at the Youth Forum to  share their experiences and visions regarding drug use prevention and to learn more about the global policy making structures and working mechanisms.

Read more




We Can Move the World

Nine youth leaders, engaged to drug use prevention in their communities in 7 different countries, were gathered in Vienna 11-15 March to share their experiences, opinions and visions, and to deliver their joint message to the representatives from Civil Society, Governments and the United Nations, during the fifty-sixth Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

Read more

See the programme of the youth side event


Thelma from Denmark calling upon the policy makers in plenary to prioritize the health and wellbeing of youth

DAPC 2012 Grants Awarded

For the 2012 DAPC grants we received 203 proposals before the deadline, out of which 24 were selected for funding based on the quality and feasibility of the project proposal and on the geographical balance.  Congratulations to the winners!

Read more about the projects selected for funding


Youth Initiative officially launched!

"Think ahead, act in longer terms, and let us not fail". These were a few of the messages presented by the Youth Initiative during the 55 th Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held in Vienna, Austria, from 12 to 16 March 2012.

The 20 young persons from 7 different countries and from the Vienna International School had the opportunity to exchange opinions and experiences, and analyze together the situation of drug use, prevention and treatment in their communities. Based on this they produced two statements, and addressed representatives from Civil Society, Governments and the United Nations with their hopes, dreams, and personal commitment for action.

Read more





Youth Discussion Guide vol II: more thematic overviews, activities, links



Youth Discussion Guide: thematic overviews, activities, links

English (pdf)

Chinese (pdf)

French (pdf)

Russian (pdf)

Spanish (pdf)






A tool for finding resources to help young people lead healthy lives and avoid substance abuse

Mentor International's new   International Resource Finder is for anyone working with young people to easily and quickly find materials to help them in their work. This interactive tool features more than 100 evidence-based resources from a variety of leading organisations across the world committed to drug prevention. We hope that this tool will help parents, families, teachers, practitioners, community leaders and policy makers globally to find relevant materials to support their work with young people and ultimately empower young people to lead happy and healthy lives and avoid  drug abuse.


Resources from previous UNODC Youth Projects

A Participatory Handbook for Youth Drug Prevention Programs

English (pdf)

French (pdf)

Spanish (pdf)

Russian (pdf)

Chinese (pdf)

Arabic (pdf)





Equal Partners: guide to organising events

English (pdf)

French (pdf)

Spanish (pdf)

Russian (pdf)

Chinese (pdf)

Arabic (pdf)



Youth Crew Handbook: Drug Abuse Prevention Forum

English (pdf)

Country: UkraineName of the organization: Prevention Center "Choice"Title of the programme: Right of adolescents on substance abuse preventionShort description: The goal of the Project is substance abuse prevention among first yearstudents at universities and vocational schools of Chernihiv as well development of a SAPmodel that can be used all over Ukraine. The specific objectives are 1) to develop SAPprogram, 2) to pilot it, 3)evaluate its effectiveness, 4) disseminate the evaluation findings atinternational conferences, 4) conduct prevention seminars in vocational schools, and 5)organize a national round table on evidence based prevention among youth.Country: Bosnia and HerzegovinaName of the organization: Association for re-socialization of former addicts "ProslaviOporavak"Title of the programme: KNOW, EDUCATE, TAKE ADVANTAGE - HAVE TOMORROWShort description: The project seeks to contribute to reducing drug abuse among high schoolstudents in Canton Sarajevo and Eastern Sarajevo. Specifically, it aims to 1) develop the skillsand awareness to prevent the use of drugs through the development and maintenance of anetwork of youth peer educators, to 2) enhance cooperation with councils of parents anddevelop support programs for parents, to 3) support cooperation among secondary through theformation of a single committee of students, who will be actively involved in the YouthInitiative, and finally to 4) attract public attention through interesting slogans and events tomark World Day against addiction.Country: Bosnia and HerzegovinaName of the organization: Association PROITitle of the programme: "Be Smart - Don't Start" - Preventing drug use among female earlyadolescents and adolescents in SarajevoShort description: The project will seek to reduce the rapidly increasing trend of drug useamong female adolescents introducing a gender sensitive drug prevention approach;developing personal and social skills to counter social pressures to use substances; developingvarious coping and decision-making skills; empowering female adolescents to organize andconduct prevention related events; and supporting critical and independent thinking about theways for drug use prevention. The project will work via skill based workshops, mentoring andactivities conducted in social media.Country: PakistanName of the organization: Hayat FoundationTitle of the programme: Reduce Substance abuse risk through promoting preventiveenvironment for youth at workplace, community and institutionsShort description: The Project aim to engage youth to develop a substance abuse preventiveenvironment in institutions (Schools, colleges, Universities), Work places (offices, technicalworkshops, Industries, business places) and communities in target District Faisalabad, PunjabProvince of Pakistan.The Project aim to engage youth to develop a substance abuse preventive environment ineducational institutions, Work places and communities, organizing capacity building on skillsbased prevention education and prevention policies for schools and workplaces, organizingevents and utilizing also social media.Country: PakistanName of the organization: Frontier Rural Development Program (FRDP)Title of the programme: Drug Free Youth-Stable PakistanShort description: This project will increase awareness on substance abuse and it'sprevention within the youth and community in general and develop a collaborative andstrengths-based solution to illicit drug use among youth. The project will focus on organisingsensitization and skills based education for students, parent awareness and educationprograms, and a media campaign.Country: MoldovaName of the organization: ElpisTitle of the programme: Preventing drug abuse and other deviant behaviour amongteenagers from BaltiShort description: The project aims to prevent drug abuse and other deviant behaviour(school truancy, crime etc.) among teenagers from Balti by equipping 15 teachers and youthworkers from Balti to implement prevention programmes for teenagers and by increaseing thelevel of response at community and school level to prevention of drugs abuse. Specifically,this project will develop a psycho-social programme targeting early adolescents age 11-14,pilotiong it and scaling it up by training facilitators to use it. Also, this project will support theschools to develop policies on deviant behaviour, drugs and healthy school environment,involving all local stakeholders such as the local Department of Education.Country: KirgistanName of the organization: Public Institute for Youth DevelopmentTitle of the programme: Prevention of drug use among young people in vocationalinstitutions in BishkekShort description: The project aims to conduct informational and educational work amongstudents in vocational training schools of Bishkek. The project consists of three components.First component trains team of young peer trainers preparing them to conduct educationaloutreach. The second component is prepared by these peer trainers conducting educationalactivities in vocational schools. The third component will integrate the developed techniquesin educational centres.Country: SomalilandName of the organization: Somaliland Youth Development and Voluntary OrganizationTitle of the programme: Preventive Education for Khat Consumption in Togdheer region astool for prevention of Gender-based violenceShort description: The aim of the project is to sensitize young boys and girls in Burcodistrict on the harmful effects of Khat consumption and other drugs available on the Somalimarket. Specifically, the project aims to increase the social and personal skills of 180 youngboys and girls that foster refusal of khat consumption, as well as the understanding on therisks and harmful effects of khat consumption on different aspects of their lives and theircommunity, via workshops and online activities.Country: KenyaName of the organization: Kenya Muslim Youth AllianceTitle of the programme: Youth 2 YouthShort description: The project will promote primary prevention of substance abuse amongthe youth in the community, raising awareness of substance abuse and their effects among theyouth, promoting behavioral change through role models as well as mobilizing communities& schools to offer institutional response and sustainability structures on drug and substanceprevention. The project activities include community orientation, training targeting teachers,training for mentors, school based prevention education based on personal and social skillsand social influence and mentoring.Country: NigeriaName of the organization: Women Friendly InitiativeTitle of the programme: Substance Abuse Prevention among Commercial Motorcycle RidersAssociation in Kuje Area CouncilShort description: The objectives of the project are to engage and strengthen partnershipsand alliances for substance abuse prevention amongst Commercial Motorcycle RidersAssociation (CMRA) specifically targeting adolescents and young members and to buildcapacity of CMRA leaders for youth to youth education on substance abuse prevention. Theproject will work through conducting advocacy visits to key stakeholders, a rapid mappingexercise, identifying and engaging young CMRA members and forming a Coalition forSubstance Abuse Prevention out of them, organizing monthly meetings and social mediaactivities for this coalition, and offering trainings and individual counselling sessions.Country: TanzaniaName of the organization: Kimara peer educators and health promoters trustTitle of the programme: Empowering Youth to Change their World in regards to preventinguse of drug and other substancesShort description: This project seeks to empower youth to sustainably become active leadersin their schools, communities and youth groups for the prevention of drugs & substance usethrough availing them the necessary information, personal skills and personal competencesthat enable them to develop healthy alternatives to drug use within the project period. Theproject will work with the directors of schools, teachers and students, as well as with parents.It will launch and support up peer education clubs in 10 schools, create and distributeeducation and communication materials, organize parents evenings, and influence schoolpolicies, for example aiming to forbid marketing of alcohol and tobacco, which is currently acommon practice in the targeted area. The project will also utilize social media to connect theparticipating youth to other youth at local level, nationally and around the world while sharingbest practices, inspiring and encouraging each other to take active role in creating a world thatembraces prevention of drug use from early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence.Country: ZimbabweName of the organization: Hope for a Child In ChristTitle of the programme: Youths United Against Substance AbuseShort description: This project seeks to raise awareness among adolescents and young adultson the dangers posed by substance abuse, strengthen the family and community ties thatpromote openness between parents and children in problem solving, promote increased youthparticipation in community based activities and finally to improve livelihoods for 250 out ofschool youthsCountry: LebanonName of the organization: Institute for Development, Research, Advocacy and Applied CareTitle of the programme: Substance Use Awareness and Prevention Program for MedicalStudentsShort description: The overall objective of the project is to assess and improve the level ofawareness of the risks of substance use among medical students at a leading medical school inLebanon. The project will support medical students to design and conduct a survey on theextent of awareness of substance abuse and its risks among their peers, and to help them toplan and implement awareness campaign as well as prevention workshops to their fellowstudents. Thus the project seeks to equip young medical students with the necessary skills toraise awareness of substance use in their personal and professional life. After the activities theeffectiveness will be assessed, for facilitating the dissemination of the same model acrossLebanese medical schools.Country: BangladeshName of the organization: Work And Rural Development (WARD)Title of the programme: Prevention of Drug Abuse among School Student througheducation and social skillsShort description: This projects seeks to reduce illicit Drug use and develop Social skillsamong vulnerable adolescents, develop school policies, and increase related awareness amongTeachers, Parents & Civil Society. A group of youth volunteers will be guided and supportedto create and implement Interactive School Based Programmes, Social Skill Development ofEarly Adolescent, Advocacy Meeting among Parents & Teacher to Develop School Policy,observe the World Drug Day, with School Students through a colorful Rally, as well as utilizesocial media.Country: BhutanName of the organization: Lhak-SamTitle of the programme: Prevention of drug use among youths who have dropped out ofschools in Thimphu (Bhutan) through youth leadership programmeShort description: The objectives of this project are: 1) to build capacity of the potentialyouth leaders on drug use, problems associated with it and modes of communication regardingits prevention among youths who have dropped out of schools, 2) to generate awarenessrelated to drug use by youth in Bhutan and modes of preventing it especially among youthwho have dropped out of schools, and to 3) develop youth clubs that facilitate awarenessgeneration on drug prevention through personal interaction as well as through use of youthfriendly IT based media.Country: NepalName of the organization: Social Service, Awareness Raising and Advocacy for Tranquilityand HumanityTitle of the programme: Youth-led Campaign against Drug UseShort description: The project will create a team of young social work students, fromdifferent socio-economic backgrounds from different parts of the country, who will be trainedand supported to plan and implement the project activities. They will sensitize youth and localcommunities on drug use, educate the youth about the existing policies and related legalaspects on drug use in Nepal, create drug free zones in the areas where the campaign areorganized, involve other youth in the campaign and make them the ambassadors of their owndrug free zones, and evaluate the activities in the end of the project.Country: IndiaName of the organization: Rural Health OrganisationTitle of the programme: Community Based Initiative for Substance Abuse Preventionamong YouthsShort description: This project will aim to prevent substance abuse among youth in thecommunity through life skills development, peer education and individual counselling,conducted by professional staff. It will also involve youth from the community in preventionof substance abuse selecting and training peer trainers and advocates for conductingawareness raising. It will work with various stakeholders from the community in theprevention of substance abuse among youth.Country: IndiaName of the organization: The Dove FoundationTitle of the programme: Health by Enabling Active LivingShort description: Health by Enabling Active Living (HEAL) is a youth led campaignworking for raising awareness and prevention about substance abuse among youth & youngpeople (15-28 years) living in Urban Slums of Varanasi. It will be working through creation ofan youth-friendly learning environment on awareness & prevention of substance abuse.Among the general youth living in slums there will be a special focus on inclusion of youngmigrants, out of school youth, socially excluded youth (rag-pickers, rickshaw pullers, dailywage labors). HEAL will be working through rights based approach and will work with andthrough young men and women equally. HEAL will be led by a team of youth who areundergoing their Bachelors and Master's level studies in Social Work. HEAL would be alsotraining the young person from the beneficiary community to take leadership role(s) in theprogram.Country: IndonesiaName of the organization: Independent Young People Alliance FoundationTitle of the programme: Prevention of Drugs Abuse among Youth in Surrounding Areas ofJakarta's Dumpsite CentreShort description: The project activities will seek to empower youth who live in thesurrounding Jakarta's dumpsite centre of Bentar Gebang from drug abuse throughstrengthening their knowledge and abilities