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 a Facebook Page to connect with youth from around the globe! Please join us!

The United Nations is committed to working with youth. Below you will find information about Youth Initiative, as well as related resources, that will tell you more about:

Who we are and what is Youth Forum?

DAPC-grants supporting the concrete activities in schools and communities;

Resources available to help and inspire you in creating your own drug prevention related activities, such as discussion guides, or for example the factsheets and related activity suggestions aiming to help you to break some of the most commonly spread myths regarding substance use.

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


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

DAPC logo

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. The call of proposals for 2017 grants is open now and will be closed 9 June 2017. See instructions on how to apply, and find the needed application templates, from here!


2016 DAPC grants awarded!

The call of proposals of 2016 DAPC-grants resulted in many good quality proposals out of which the following ones have been selected for funding - Congratulations to the winners!

Partnere per Femijet (Albania)

PF "Child's Rights Defenders League" (Kyrgyzstan)

Corporación Nuevos Rumbos (Colombia)

National Council on Drug Abuse (Jamaica)

Society for Community-health Rehabilitation Education and Awareness (Bangladesh)

YOWLI Burundi (Burundi)




Youth Forum

Every year, UNODC Youth Initiative gathers the most active youth engaged in drug use prevention and health promotion from around the globe, involved in the Youth Initiative, to exchange ideas and visions on how to better protect the health and wellbeing of their peers, and support them in conveying their message to the global level policy makers.


YOUTH FORUM has been organised since 2012 - read more on the past years activities and messages delivered to the global decision makers:

Youth Forum 2017: "Together we can build a better future"

Youth Forum 2016: "Will you believe in us?"

Youth Forum 2015: "Together we CAN and we WILL change the situation in our communities and truly support the health and wellbeing of our peers''

Youth Forum 2014: "We are not only the generation of tomorrow, we are the generation of today. We want and we can help!"

Youth Forum 2013: "We Can Move the World"

Youth Forum 2012: 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 participants in the first ever Youth Forum held in Vienna, Austria, in March 2012. The 20 young persons 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  


Here we invite you to meet participants of the Youth Initiative who have been taking part to the Youth Forum, and learn what participation means to them!


Radmila Doder (Serbia) "A lot has changed since the 56th CND when it comes to Youth Initiative..."


To Brenda Bonareri (18) from Kenya, who was a participant of the 2015 Youth Forum , engagement with the Youth Initiative means ...


Abdullah Syed (23) from Pakistan took part in Youth Forum in 2014, and to him participation in the Youth Forum means ...


Radmila Doder (20) from Serbia participated to the 2013 Youth Forum, and to her engagement with the Youth Initiative means…




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 8: The non-medical use of prescription drugs is safe and legal

In many places, prescription drugs are the most commonly misused substance by teens after marijuana and alcohol. However, taking prescription or over-the counter drugs in a manner not intended by the prescriber and not guided and supervised by a medical professional can be just as dangerous and unpredictable than the use of any other drugs. The non-medical use of prescription drugs ranges from taking someone else's prescription in order to relax or sooth pain, taking a medication to "get high", to obtaining medicine under false pretence or illegally from the street or the Internet. In many parts of the world young people are the group most affected. Get informed!

And see also our suggestion on what to do to take action in your school or community and to break this Myth!


Myth 7: Using drugs helps you to feel good and relaxed

Everyone needs to find techniques to cope with stress and difficult feelings. To some, using drugs may seem like a good way to relax and feel good in general, but, especially in the long term, drug use can have quite different impact on the well being of the body and mind seriously compromising our health and functional capability - read the fact sheet to learn more! Here is also an idea what to do in your school or peer group to break this myth.


Myth 6: It Impacts only me?

Drug use is often discussed as a very personal choice, but in reality it does not only impact the person who is using drugs, and his or her social relations, but also the environment at large. Actually, the production of drugs can have serious detrimental consequences to the environment - read the fact sheet and learn how! Here is also a suggestion on how to disseminate awareness for breaking this myth and take part in to our challenge! See what others around the world have done to break this Myth!


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.

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.


Other Resources

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)