Prevention in recreational settings

Selective prevention projects in recreational settings are increasingly reported by the new Member States, especially the Czech Republic, Cyprus (mobile information unit in nightlife venues), Hungary (three organisations), Poland and Slovenia.

Typically, the content of interventions remains unchanged and is similar in most Member States, taking the form of anti-drug discos, art performances, theatre, media support (films, cartoons, etc.), seminars, mobile exhibitions and travel experiences (Luxembourg national report).

Structural approaches remain important. In Italy, the Netherlands and Scandinavia networking is considered a prerequisite for drug prevention, the aim being to influence nightlife culture. To this end, prevention professionals liaise with the owners of premises typically used for recreational drug use (including coffee shops in the Netherlands) and others involved in the nightlife scene, such as doorkeepers and bar staff. In Sweden, such interventions are being rolled out to large cities other than Stockholm. A study of similar schemes in the Netherlands concluded, ‘visitors and organisers of parties behave considerably more responsibly on illegal drugs than expected’ (Pijlman et al., 2003). Integrated approaches such as these also have the advantage of deflecting public attention away from incidents and medical emergencies involving illegal drugs at large parties and focusing awareness on the overall risks of the clubbing setting. Safer nightlife guidelines fall into this category but are not yet widespread in Europe (Calafat et al., 2003).

Individual online counselling through websites is a relatively new approach adopted in Austria and Germany (www.drugcom.de). Along the same lines, in Austria, e-mail counselling is available at the new Vienna Drug Assistance call centre, and quality standards have been developed (FSW, 2004). However, most drug prevention websites simply provide expert advice and do not include discussion forums, as robust evidence of the effectiveness of such consumer-led peer-to-peer communities does not exist (Eysenbach et al., 2004).