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:




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



Make the Youth Initiative a reality in your community
Apply for a grant!

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 Centre (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 activities of youth groups in low and middle income countries to initiate projects to empower youth to take more active roles in their communities and undertake drug prevention activities in line with the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention, and make the Youth Initiative a reality in their schools, communities, youth centres.


Apply for the 2014 grants!

The call for proposals for the 2014 DAPC-grants is out now! Please see how to apply and what is the criteria for awarding the grants. Here is also the   application form  to be submitted together with the  budget table.
We will accept applications until  29 August 2014, midnight (GMT+2 hours)


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)