Turin, Italy, July 2020. UNICRI is implementing a research project aimed at enhancing the role of families in drug use prevention and recovery among adolescents and children. This initiative, carried out with the support of the Department for Antidrug Policies of the Government of Italy, includes research activities in three selected countries: Italy, Lebanon and Tunisia.
By adopting a context-specific and people-centered approach, UNICRI wishes to provide new insights on the families’ and the stakeholders’ expectations and difficulties, on the structural gaps in the provision of services and on the barriers that are currently preventing families from accessing health and social services dedicated to drug use prevention and treatment in the three countries involved in the project.
Within this framework, the last project activity on the needs of families in the prevention of drug use among young people was held with Tunisian stakeholders, on 30 June 2020. In particular, the online Focus Group involved professionals, representatives from governmental institutions, civil society organizations, socio-health services and other key stakeholders working with adolescents and children at the national level to prevent and treat drug-related problems.
As it was done with the Lebanese and Italian stakeholders focus groups, the first session of the meeting was dedicated to presenting and discussing the results of the questionnaires previously administered. The questionnaire used for data collection was developed during the first phase of the project and tailored to each of the implementation contexts. The aim of the questionnaire was to gather preliminary information on the stakeholders’ perspectives regarding relevant issues related to families’ vulnerabilities, competences, resources and needs with respect to drug-use prevention and treatment among youth. During the second session of the focus group, the participants discussed priority needs in this field and proposed possible concrete actions on how to improve the offer of services and interventions in order to be better responsive to the specific needs of the families.
The initiative represented an opportunity to discuss the importance of better addressing issues concerning the specific needs of the families in this field, also in light of the development of the national strategy on drug prevention, which the Tunisian government is currently dedicating efforts on.
The activities carried out in the three countries contributed to improving knowledge and understanding of the common and the culturally unique elements that can support families in getting more effectively engaged with socio-health services and with the community at large, so as to protect future generations from drug use.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, families have covered an even more essential role and UNICRI hopes that the recommendations stemming from the study will be useful to consider family centered and responsive policies and practices in national and local policies.