At the time of beginning the project, drug prevention quality standards were available only in some Member States of the EU. The available guidance varied in terms of its content, methodological rigour, and applicability beyond the regional/national context. Consequently, a common European framework on drug prevention was missing. It was also not clear to what extent internationally available guidance was relevant to drug prevention in Europe, and how it could be adapted to the European context (for example, the "Standards of Evidence" published by the USA Society for Prevention Research in 2004).
The need for a European drug prevention framework is apparent in EU policy documents, such as the EU Drugs Action Plans. These have expressed an intention to develop and implement best practice in drug prevention, but without being able to provide a reference framework on how to do this. Therefore, the standards project aimed to provide an empirically derived reference framework to bridge the gaps between science, policy and practice. The specific objectives of the project were to compile, review and analyse existing drug prevention standards in EU Member States, and to publish a common set of European drug prevention quality standards.
The availability of an agreed framework that is adaptable to local circumstances should provide an incentive for EU Member States to develop quality standards where these did not previously exist, or to review and update existing quality standards, and adopt these quality standards for their own use. Adoption of the standards will improve drug prevention practice and efficiency of funding, and reduce the likelihood of implementation of ineffective and iatrogenic interventions. Thus, the standards will support the fulfilment of local, regional, national and international drug strategies and policies.
National drug prevention guidelines and standards in Europe can be found here.
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