Kabul (Afghanistan), 19 October 2020 — A large and increasing number of children and adolescents in Afghanistan are exposed to illicit drugs and psychoactive substances. Substance use disorders are much more harmful when the age of onset is lower, as psychotropic substances can cause lasting damage to the developing brains of children and youth.
Evidence-based prevention interventions are an effective and efficient tool for reducing or delaying exposure to psychoactive substances and decreasing serious dependency in the long-run. A wide range of human rights and science-based treatment and rehabilitation interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing the negative health and social consequences of drug use, while promoting the recovery and social reintegration of children and youths with drug dependency.
To address drug use among children and youth —and facilitate their recovery and social reintegration within their families and communities— the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has launched a global project for children and adolescents who use drugs. This project aims at strengthening the coordinated responses of public institutions, NGOs, and international, regional and national partners.
One of main components of GLOK42 is capacity-building for implementing partners and government entities. This focus on training and development improves the quality of drug use prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare (recovery) services for children and adolescents using drugs or at risk of drug dependence.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNODC Country office for Afghanistan worked in close collaboration with both the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and civil society organizations (CSOs). The result of this effort were two rounds of four-day capacity building trainings on Psychosocial Protocol for children and adolescents.
The UNODC Project Team was composed of experts from the global program on preventing drug use and treating drug use disorders for children and adolescents. They joined forces with selected co-trainers from Children Project to act as facilitators. Forty-five health professionals from drug treatment centers located in Kabul and Afghanistan’s ten provinces benefitted from the two expert-led training sessions.
During the closing ceremony, the Director of the Drug Demand Reduction Directorate (MoPH) expressed their gratitude to UNODC for imparting a useful and practical training that contributes to enhancing the capacities of field staff addressing drug prevention, treatment and rehabilitation in Afghanistan.