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Family skills training programmes in drug abuse prevention

Evidence-based family skills training programmes have been found to be the most effective way to prevent substance use among children and adolescents after nurse home-visitation programmes. These programmes target the whole family and offer skills-building for parents on monitoring and supervision of children's activities, communication and setting age appropriate limits.

Children learn personal, social and communication skills, and at the end of each session families come together to practice new skills as a family unit. These programmes improve  family functioning, organization, communication and interpersonal relationships and have been found to have multiple positive outcomes for children and adolescents including decreased alcohol and drug use, increased child attachment to school and academic performance, decreased child depression and aggression, increased child social competence and pro-social behaviour and decrease d family conflict. In addition these programmes have been found to be cost-effective.

Compilation of Evidence-Based Family Skills Training Programmes

UNODC has published a Compilation of Evidence-Based Family Skills Training Programmes . It provides policymakers, programme managers, non-governmental organizations and others interested in implementing family skills training programmes with a review of existing evidence-based family skills training programmes..

Its purpose is to provide details of the content of such programmes, the groups targeted, the materials used and the training implemented, in order to assist users in selecting the programme best suited to their needs and to offer guidance as to the kind of programmes available. UNODC strongly recommends practitioners, clinicians and others working in the area of prevention to use evidence-based programmes rather than start developing their own from scratch. The programmes appear in descending order according to the level of scientific evidence on which they are based. The Compilation is currently only available in English.

Guide to implementing family skills training programmes for drug abuse prevention

UNODC published Guidelines to implement family skills training programmes for drug abuse prevention in March 2009. These guidelines contain evidence of effectiveness, principles of family skills training programmes, cultural adaptation guidelines, advice on how to recruit and retain families through the programmes, practical advice on training of staff, as well as information about monitoring and evaluating family skills training programmes. The guidelines are available in: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.

UNODC has developed a global project to systematically adapt, implement, monitor and evaluate family skills training programmes in different regions.


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Preventing violence through the development of safe, stable and nurturing relationships between children and their parents

WHO and Liverpool John Moores University launched Violence prevention: the evidence, an eight-part series of briefings on the evidence for interventions to prevent interpersonal and self-directed violence. By spotlighting evidence for the effectiveness of interventions, Violence prevention: the evidence provides clear directions for how violence prevention funders, policy makers and programme implementers can boost the impact of their violence prevention efforts, and by extension contribute to drug abuse prevention.  Preventing violence through the development of safe, stable and nurturing relationships between children and their parents highlights the crucial contribution that family skills training programmes can have in this respect.

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Resources on family skills training activities



The role of parents in preventing drug use

This website in French details the background documentation as well as the interventions (both in video and in transcript) of experts that presented and discussed best practices in assisting parents on taking their rightful central role as leading agents of prevention, including the prevention of drug use. A lot of food for thought!

Assisses Website

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Cover page of MILDT, France publication on parents

Mission interministerielle de lutte contre la drogue et la toxicomanie - MILDT (France)

Parents: repères éducatifs

This booklet in French is targeted to parents and educators of adolescents. It discusses the risks of different forms of use, the legislation and the resources and assistance available. The booklet is available, together with many other resources in French, at the website of MILDT.

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Center for Substance Abuse Prevention - CSAP (U.S.A.)

Parenting IS Prevention training

This is a curriculum for training parents that will act as mobilisers in the community

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IREFREA (Europe)

Family: The Challenge of Prevention of Drug Use
Family Relationships and Primary Prevention of Drug Use in Early Adolescence

These are two publications by Irefrea, a professional European network for the promotion and research of prevention of drug and other child and adolescent problems. These publications are very research oriented, but they are less user friendly.

"Family: the challenge of prevention of drug use"

"Family Relationships and Primary Prevention of Drug Use in Early Adolescence"

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Northeast Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies - NortheastCAPT - (U.S.A.)

Family-based Prevention: Critical Components
Strengthening Families and Protecting Children from Substance Abuse

Two publications of the Northeast CAPT summarising evidence on effective family-based approaches. You can find them both at:

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Strengthening Families Programme

This site contains the results of a research supported by The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) in 1999. The results are provided in the form of a list and a description of programmes which have been proven to be effective. Programmes are also cathegorised in a matrix according to the level of prevention (universal, selective, indicated) and the age of the children of the families (0-5, 6-10, 11-18, 0-18).

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