UNODC showcases best practices about prevention of substance abuse in family settings to Civil Society organizations


Vienna (Austria), 19 November 2021 – Evidence based prevention of substance abuse disorders contributes to achieving Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, and civil society organisations play a key role in implementing science-led prevention programs in family settings.   

In a webinar jointly organized with the UNODC Civil Society Unit, UNODC Prevention Treatment and Rehabilitation Section (UNODC PTRS) and the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), experts from UNODC and civil society presented UNODC’s Family First Programs, including “Listen First”, “Stronger Families” and “Families UNitedThey highlighted how these materials can be used for evidence-based prevention on the ground.  

Mirella Dummar Frahi, Chief, UNODC Civil Society Unit (UNODC CSU) and Jamie Bridge, Chair, VNGOC opened the webinar that gathered nearly 100 participants from around the worldElizabeth MattfeldGlobal Coordinator of “Listen First”, UNODC PTRS introduced the programs materials, including the newest set, Science of Skills, that feature four animated characters with ‘super skills’, which are linked to social and emotional learning. "Prevention is based on ACTIVE Listening… and materials need to be fun and engaging to increase effectiveness".  

Wadih Maalouf, Global Coordinator for “Stronger Families” & “Families UNited”, UNODC PTRS followed, familiarizing participants with the two other UNODC family skills programs, highlighting that prevention is science but it is not a stand-alone intervention and should be part of a comprehensive care package. Both “Stronger Families” and “Families UNited” were developed as family skills programs for early adolescents (ages 9-11) and are short programs that can also be used in humanitarian settings.  

The first civil society expert Amir Shaju from Dhaka Ahsania Mission Bangladesh showed the participants how his organization has implemented the “Stronger Families” program in Bangladesh, teaching trainers, translating materials, and implementing family skills trainings. His intervention was followed by Dr. Carmen Fernandéz, CEO of Centro Intégracion Juvenil (CIJ) Mexico who not only explained the overall Mexican situation in terms of prevention of substance abuse but also highlighted the work CIJ has been doing for many years. 

During the event, participants had the opportunity to ask questions, which were answered through the Q&A function of Zoom and mostly focused on how to best engage with UNODC on this topic. Ms Mattfeld explained that all interested CSOs can go to the partner section on the “Listen First” website and fill out a short engagement form. UNODC welcomes CSO partners from across the world and supports NGOs in many ways including with translation of the materials into local languages. 

Concluding the event Mirella Dummar Frahithanked the United Sates and the Russian Federation for supporting this webinar and encouraged participants to visit the  NGO Marketplace, an interactive online platform that allows NGOs to network, share drug related experiences and expertise.