Category Archives: Dissemination

Minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction interventions in the EU

EU Council ConclusionsOn 14 September 2015, the Council of the European Union adopted Council conclusions on the implementation of minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction in the EU.

The new “minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction in the EU” build on previous initiatives to formulate and establish quality standards in prevention, treatment and harm reduction, including the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) initiative (although developed through a separate activity, not directly related to the EDPQS Phase I or Phase II projects).

Recognising that implementation of standards such as the EDPQS cannot rely on engagement with practitioners alone, but requires political support at all levels, these new standards can be considered a major achievement as they have been formally endorsed by the governments of the EU Member States. It is hoped that they will provide a significant foundation upon which to implement future activities to support high quality in the drug demand reduction field (including prevention), to professionalise the workforce and strengthen existing delivery systems.

The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) commented on the publication of the minimum standards as follows:

“This innovative initiative lists 16 standards that represent a minimum benchmark of quality for interventions in: drug use prevention, risk and harm reduction, treatment, social integration and rehabilitation. Although non-binding for national governments, this document represents the political will of EU countries to address demand reduction interventions through an evidence-based perspective.” (

The political process leading up to this achievement required several years of work and the long-term support and commitment of many stakeholders. The European Prevention Standards Partnership followed the development closely and supported it at several stages. A milestone in the process, for example, was the publication of a first proposal for minimum standards in 2011: the EQUS Minimum Quality Standards in Drug Demand Reduction. These were developed in collaboration with the European Prevention Standards Partnership (responsible for the prevention strand; for further details see Example 6 in our EDPQS Toolkit 4).

The work on EU minimum standards then advanced significantly during the EU Presidencies of Italy (2014) and of Latvia (2015), with a revised proposal for minimum standards drawn up and discussed in a year-long process during the meetings of the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) (highlighted in a previous blog post regarding the CND 2015 Side Event). Representatives of the European Prevention Standards Partnership provided input regarding the methods and sources used to develop the minimum standards, as well as their contents.

We are pleased that the endorsed minimum standards are fully compatible with, and make explicit reference to, the EDPQS. The EDPQS will continue to be helpful to achieve these minimum standards in the prevention field, and to think about quality standards and the practicalities of achieving quality at a more in-depth level.

“Minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction interventions in the EU”

Quick Guide available in Swedish

Quick Guide SwedishAn adapted version of the ‘quick guide’ to the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS), published in 2013 by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in collaboration with the Prevention Standards Partnership, is now available in Swedish.

The Swedish Quick Guide was produced as part of the “Three Cities” project (Swedish title: Trestad2). This was a joint initiative between the three largest cities in Sweden (Stockholm, Malmö and Gothenburg) aimed at improving the policies and interventions addressing young people’s cannabis use. A broader aim of the project was to promote quality and workforce competencies in prevention across Sweden, and hence a special sub-project sought to adapt the European quality standards to the Swedish context.

Work on the adaptation started in 2010 and was implemented as a long-term consensus-building process involving policy makers, practitioners and researchers from the three cities as well as from across the country. The project received financial support from the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs under the national ANDT (Alcohol, Narcotic drugs, Doping and Tobacco) Strategy as well as from the city government. The Public Health Agency of Sweden actively supported the adaptation of the material and is now a key player in disseminating the output.


The National Reference Group at a working group meeting with Prof Harry Sumnall and Angelina Brotherhood (Stockholm, May 2014).

Adaptation of the EDPQS to the Swedish context proceeded in collaboration with the EU Prevention Standards Partnership. The Social Development Unit, Social Services Administration, City of Stockholm formally joined the Partnership in 2013 as an Associate Partner, and the Swedish adaptation of EDPQS served as a case study during the EDPQS Phase II project (as reported in a previous blog entry). The picture above shows Prof Harry Sumnall and Angelina Brotherhood attending a meeting in Stockholm in May 2014 to discuss the EDPQS with the national reference group which had been set up to inform the adaptation.

The EU Prevention Standards Partnership followed the Swedish adaptation process with great interest, and the experiences gathered by the Swedish colleagues were essential for the development of EDPQS Toolkit 4. In fact, it was these colleagues’ questions and learning that prompted the development of our guide to adapting and disseminating the EDPQS.

Further information on the Swedish experience of adapting the EDPQS can be found in the Toolkit 4 Example Projects and on our Sweden country page. On that page you can also access a video interview with Anders Eriksson, City of Stockholm, and his colleagues Mats Glans and Ulf Ljungberg, City of Malmö.

All resources to support use of the Standards can be found in our resources section.

Conference announcement: “Minimum Quality Standards in Drug Demand Reduction”, 10-11 June 2015 – Warsaw, Poland

Our Polish EDPQS project partners, the Polish Reitox Focal Point (National Bureau for Drug Prevention, NBDP) and the Masovian Centre for Social Policy (MCPS), will host their annual drug prevention conference in Warsaw, Poland on 10-11 June 2015 (full day on 10th, half day on 11th).

Participants can expect presentations and discussions on:

  • The European drug report EMCDDA 2015 (Alessandro Pirona), with a focus on the situation in Poland
  • The European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS), focussing on Phase II outputs and implementation efforts in Poland (Angelina Brotherhood, Artur Malczewski)
  • The EU Minimum Quality Standards in Drug Demand Reduction, as developed by the Horizontal Drugs Group (HDG) under the presendencies of Italy and Latvia, with speakers from Latvia (Agnese Zile-Veisberga), the United Kingdom (Harry Sumnall) and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction EMCDDA (Alessandro Pirona)
  • The COMIQS.BE project, focussing on the process used to develop quality standards in Belgium (Johan Jongbloet)
  • New Psychoactive Substances, with contributions from the Netherlands (Jean-Paul Grund), the United Kingdom (Harry Sumnall) and Poland (Michał Kidawa)
  • Cannabis: analysing current situation and responses as well as recent policy changes in the United States, with contributions from the Netherlands (Jean-Paul Grund), Latvia (Agnese Zile-Veisberga) and Poland (Krzysztof Krajewski, Bogusława Bukowska).

Attendance at the event is free. Meals and accommodation are also provided by the organisers. Participants will have to cover their own travel costs and make their own travel arrangements.

Draft conference programme

Registration Form (Deadline for registration: 3rd June 2015)

It is expected that the event will be attended by some 150 individuals. For more information, please contact Artur Malczewski at

The EDPQS Partnership at the previous drug prevention conference

Members of the EDPQS Partnership at the previous national drug prevention conference in Warsaw, 2014

Conference talk on EDPQS now available to watch online

Last year in October, EDPQS researcher Angelina Brotherhood presented the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) at the International Symposium on Drug Policy and Public Health in Istanbul, Turkey.

This 16 min talk is now available to watch online below:

If you have trouble accessing the video above, you can also view the talk on YouTube at

CND 2015 Side event: “Developing and promoting quality standards in drug demand reduction”

This year’s meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) featured a side event on quality standards. The event was a joint initiative of the European Union, the Government of Latvia, the African Union Commission, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the UNODC Drug Prevention and Health Branch, and the Prevention Standards Partnership (represented by Liverpool John Moores University, UK).

Ambassadors Györgyi Martin Zanathy and Bahtijors Hasans

The event was opened by Ambassador Györgyi Martin Zanathy, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the International Organisations in Vienna. Ambassador Zanathy emphasised that promotion of quality in the field of drug demand reduction is a priority for the European Union, with three projects funded to this effect – the “Study on the Development of an EU Framework for Minimum quality standards and benchmarks in drug demand reduction” (EQUS) (see our related activities page) and, specifically in the area of prevention, the EDPQS Phase I and Phase II projects. She further praised the efforts of the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSF) in this regard, referring also to the CSF’s recent submission of a Thematic Paper on EU minimum quality standards for drug demand reduction to the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG).

The event was chaired by Ambassador Bahtijors Hasans, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia to the UN, OSCE and Other International Organizations in Vienna. In his introductory statement, Ambassador Hasans stressed how projects to promote quality standards encourage different stakeholders from government and civil society to come to the negotiation table and to work together towards an evidence-based approach to addressing drug-related needs.

These opening remarks were followed by four presentations to introduce ongoing efforts in this area from different parts of the world.

Dr Gilberto Gerra referring to the treatment of Lymphoma to emphasise the importance of quality standards

Dr Gilberto Gerra, Chief of the Drug Prevention and Health Branch at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), used examples from the medical field to highlight the importance of quality standards. He argued that few people would agree to medical treatment by a doctor who refuses to follow an evidence-based protocol to treat their condition, preferring instead to follow intuition. This, however, was the reality for many activities in drug demand reduction. Dr Gerra argued that the evidence is clear on what doesn’t work to address drug-related needs, but that this knowledge does not sufficiently inform policy and practice. The UNODC has published, and is continuing to develop, standards and guidelines for prevention and treatment. Yet the challenge remains to make these documents widely known and used in different contexts.

Presentation by Ambassador Dr Olawale Maiyegun

Ambassador Dr Olawale Maiyegun, Director of Social Affairs at the African Union Commission (AUC), presented work undertaken by the African Union to raise the quality of treatment for drug dependence. Activities by the AUC include training the workforce, for example as part of the UNODC’s Treatnet projects or using the Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC). Differences in countries’ public health care systems, along with cultural and socio-economic factors, were one of the challenges which the AUC faces in this process. However, according to Ambassador Maiyegun, the major challenge for the African continent lies in the over-reliance on supply reduction and criminal justice approaches. He commented that treatment was virtually non-existent in some countries, and where it did, treatment practices could be of such a poor standard that they led to greater harm than drug use itself. In this context, promoting quality standards offered an opportunity to redress the balance between supply and demand reduction, and to advocate for greater investment in treatment.

Presentation by Mr Jānis Bekmanis

Next up was Mr Jānis Bekmanis, President of the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs (HDG) during the Latvian Presidency at the Council of the European Union. Mr Bekmanis embedded the projects to promote quality standards within the EU’s wider activities to support high quality drug demand reduction, referring also to the EMCDDA’s Best Practice Portal. Mr Bekmanis was unable to share details with the plenum about the EU minimum quality standards in drug demand reduction, as these standards are still under discussion by the EU Member States. He did disclose that they would include standards for prevention, risk and harm reduction, as well as treatment and rehabilitation. Across these three areas, the standards would reflect common principles oriented toward human rights, monitoring and evaluation, and target population needs. Once the standards have been agreed on by Member States, Mr Bekmanis suggested that further work would be required to support and monitor implementation of the standards.

Prof Harry Sumnall

Finally, Prof Harry Sumnall, Professor in Substance Use at Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University, spoke on behalf of the Prevention Standards Partnership. Prof Sumnall highlighted that promoting quality in European prevention required collaboration with many partners. This included not only the members of the Prevention Standards Partnership but also other projects and organisations committed to high-quality drug prevention, such as the Three Cities project in Sweden or COPOLAD. A major challenge in promoting quality was how to support the prevention workforce to use and implement quality standards. Prof Sumnall argued that for a true improvement in professional practice, it is not sufficient to influence prevention providers as individuals and organisations, but that policy-makers must create the structures necessary to promote quality. He cited examples from the Czech Republic and Croatia, where the quality of preventive activities is considered when selecting projects for governmental funding. Across Europe, these examples represented the exception rather than the rule. The outputs from the EDPQS Phase II project would therefore include a guide for decision-makers to help revise funding and commissioning systems toward a greater emphasis on quality.

The side event was attended by around 50 participants, and several delegates approached Prof Sumnall over the course of the CND to discuss the role of standards in improving the quality of drug demand reduction activities, including representatives from the Australian Drug Foundation and the New Zealand Drug Foundation.

– Angelina Brotherhood

Harry Sumnall and Angelina Brotherhood with some of the colleagues who helped realise this side event (Jānis Bekmanis, Evika Siliņa and Agnese Veisberga, Government of Latvia; Artur Malczewski, National Bureau for Drug Prevention, Poland; Giovanna Campello, UNODC Drug Prevention and Health Branch) Introducing the EDPQS project Prevention Standards Partnership

Audience at the side event Audience at the side event Harry Sumnall & Angelina Brotherhood with John Rogerson, Australian Drug Foundation, and Ross Bell, NZ Drug Foundation

Silke Vitt was available at the EMCDDA stand to provide further information EDPQS Manual could be picked up during the event as well as from EMCDDA stand Project partner Artur Malczewski of the National Bureau for Drug Prevention (NBDP), Poland, was also present during the CND and referred to the EDPQS during another side event when describing the Polish prevention system

Project Update #7: Final partnership meeting and EDPQS workshop in Athens

EDPQS Partnership

The Prevention Standards Partnership in Athens, Greece

From 23rd to 25th February 2015, the Prevention Standards Partnership met in Athens, Greece, to discuss progress on the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) Phase II project as well as possible next steps. Additionally, on 26th February, Greek project partner UMHRI organised a national training event on EDPQS, involving practitioners and commissioners from all over Greece.

Discussing findings from the ‘pilot training’ – finalising the EDPQS Training Pack

With the Phase II project officially coming to an end in March 2015, the Partnership focused on necessary actions to finalise the toolkits being developed at this stage of the work. Special attention was given to the results of the ‘pilot training’ activity, which was carried out in six partner countries at the beginning of 2015 (Mentor International’s Prevention Hub reported on the London event). During this pilot, the Partners tested the forthcoming EDPQS Training Pack, which has been developed by project partners ASL 2 Savonese and LJMU. In total, 99 individuals participated in the pilot training, including practitioners, policy-makers, commissioners, national certifiers and University students.

The EDPQS Training Pack will include a trainer’s guide, PowerPoint slides and handouts that can be used to deliver training on how to use the EDPQS. The intention is to provide materials which, if read and followed carefully, will enable interested individuals to become EDPQS trainers and to introduce and promote the EDPQS in their own contexts.

Pilot training in Warsaw

Groupwork activity during the pilot training event in Warsaw, Poland

Results from the pilot training suggested that participants enjoyed the training, and that it helped them to appreciate the EDPQS more fully. Data about the pilot training were collected through observations, open discussions, a quiz and feedback forms. Partners reported that although many participants had known about the EDPQS previously, it was this training which helped participants to really understand how the standards can bring about practical benefits. Across all countries, participants’ favourite session was a group exercise during which the quality of a fictional prevention project was reviewed, using the EDPQS checklist from the Quick Guide. From the trainers’ perspective, project partners highlighted that more time should be allocated to the group exercises, as these were most beneficial to participants and facilitated a deeper engagement with the standards. At the meeting, the Partnership discussed these findings and agreed on necessary revisions of the EDPQS Training Pack.

Once the toolkits are ready for publication, the website will be updated accordingly and the Training Pack will then become available for download. The meeting also provided an opportunity to record video messages from Project Partners concerning the EDPQS project and the forthcoming toolkits, which will be added to the website alongside the toolkits.

Beyond Phase II

Plans for EDPQS activities beyond Phase II were also discussed. It was encouraging that all partners reported plans to continue work with the EDPQS at their national level. Besides promoting the toolkits, most Partners intend to use the EDPQS Training Pack to deliver training on the EDPQS in the months following Phase II. However, to better coordinate and sustain these efforts it was agreed that a Phase III project would be most beneficial. This confirmed the findings of a meeting held earlier this month in Bergeggi, Italy, under the auspices of Italian project partner Rachele Donini of ASL 2 Savonese to discuss plans for a potential Phase III. It was also reconfirmed that future work should focus on models of prevention systems and how the EDPQS can help to improve prevention policy-making and commissioning.

Promoting EDPQS in Greece

Greek project partners Ioulia Bafi and Anastasios Fotiou from the University Mental Health Research Institute (UMHRI), Greece, made use of the presence of the Partnership and organised a training event on the day following the partnership meeting. Some 20 practitioners and commissioners from different parts of Greece attended this event, many of whom had already been involved in earlier activities of the project and were interested to find out more.

Professor Harry Sumnall gave a lecture describing current concepts and emerging issues regarding prevention, and how quality standards may support prevention activities. The presentation expanded on some of the issues which will also be explored in the forthcoming EDPQS Position Paper authored by Harry.

This was followed by a session exploring different country prevention systems. Angelina Brotherhood highlighted that research has only begun in recent years to explore the differences between country prevention systems, and which elements of such systems are best suited to support high quality in drug prevention. Following this introduction, systems in four countries were presented and discussed: Sweden, Poland, United Kingdom, and Greece. Contributions were made by Anders Eriksson from the Social Development Unit, Social Services Administration, Stockholm, Sweden; Artur Malczewski from the Polish National Bureau for Drug Prevention (NBDP); Harry Sumnall from Liverpool John Moores University; and Sotia Makaroni from PRONOI, a Greek prevention provider who was involved in the ‘case study’ activity also undertaken in EDPQS Phase II. The current and potential role of quality standards was highlighted in each presentation.

A group exercise was then undertaken in line with the EDPQS Training Pack. In groups, participants discussed mechanisms which exist in Greece to ensure the quality of preventive work, and how these mechanisms could be improved and supported using EDPQS. Participants engaged very much with this discussion, and the session ended only because the facilitator had to leave for the airport.

The Greek hosts Ioulia and Anastasios concluded the day by asking participants to devise an action plan about how to promote quality and use of quality standards in their own work, their organisation and at the national level. Feedback from the group suggested the need for training on EDPQS, but also helped to identify a group of motivated stakeholders active at the national level who could support the promotion and application of EDPQS in Greece.

It was interesting for the EDPQS Project Partners to meet members of the Greek prevention community and to experience the enthusiasm for high quality prevention displayed by the group. Likewise, participants enjoyed meeting in person the authors of the EDPQS, as well as being able to network with their colleagues from other parts in Greece and to discuss how the quality of prevention can be further promoted and developed in this country. This was a perfect example for the kind of exchange and advocacy at national level which the EDPQS project hopes to set in motion.

Invitation: EDPQS at the 58th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND)

CND logo

We’re very pleased to announce that the 58th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) will feature a side event on quality standards in drug demand reduction, including a presentation by Professor Harry Sumnall on the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS).

12.3.2015 Update: Please access our report on this event here.

This side event is a joint initiative of the European Union, the Government of Latvia, the African Union Commission, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the UNODC Drug Prevention and Health Branch, and the Prevention Standards Partnership (represented by Liverpool John Moores University, UK). Representatives of these organisations will provide an update on their current efforts to develop and promote quality standards in drug demand reduction.

Date and time: 11 March 2015, 13.10 – 14.00
Location: Conference Room M3, Vienna International Centre, Vienna, Austria

Download the official invitation

Further information on this side event is also available from the Centre for Public Health at Liverpool John Moores University, UK. To find out more about the CND, visit the UNODC website. The programme for CND 2015, including all main sessions and side events, is available for download here.

Please do come along to our side event if you will be attending this year’s CND.


Interview with Angelina Brotherhood in Polish magazine for drug professionals

The November Swiat Problemowissue of „Świat Problemów” (nr 11/2014; features an interview with EDPQS project researcher Angelina Brotherhood. The interview was conducted by Artur Malczewski of the National Bureau for Drug Prevention (NBDP), Poland. It took place in the context of the Bureau’s most recent annual conference in Warsaw, which was devoted to quality standards in prevention, with EDPQS partners from different countries sharing their experiences and insights (see previous blog entry).

The interview was published in Polish in print and on the webpage of „Świat Problemów”:

The editors of „Świat Problemów” have kindly given permission to publish the English version of the interview below.

“Translating standards into practice”

Artur MALCZEWSKI of the National Bureau for Drug Prevention talks to Angelina BROTHERHOOD of the Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University, about European Drug Prevention Quality Standards.

Artur Malczewski: What is EDPQS? Why may this kind of document and partnership be useful for prevention in Europe and European prevention specialists?

Angelina Brotherhood: EDPQS stands for European Drug Prevention Quality Standards. We – that is, the Prevention Standards Partnership (1) – produced these quality standards between 2008 and 2011 in a project co-funded by the European Union, and the standards were then published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). We developed the standards by reviewing existing standards for drug prevention activities, and by consulting with over 400 people working in drug prevention in six European countries. The idea behind the EDPQS was that they would define what ‘high quality’ means with regard to drug prevention – what we should expect from drug prevention activities. At the European level, before the EDPQS there was no definite consensus about what high quality drug prevention should look like.  So the EDPQS provide a common reference point for all European countries, based on a European consensus.

Who is the main target group for the EDPQS Manual? Can you highlight one or two main groups? 

We wrote the standards so that they would be relevant to everybody working in drug prevention. This is why we involved many different professional groups when developing the standards. From the beginning of the project, people who commission and fund drug prevention activities have been a main target audience for the EDPQS. Based on the feedback we have received since publishing the standards in 2011, it seems that two additional professional groups find the standards especially useful. The first group consists of prevention coordinators at local, regional and national levels. They use the standards to promote high quality prevention in their area of influence – for example, this would include the work of the Polish National Bureau for Drug Prevention to promote the EDPQS (2). The other group consists of service managers and programme developers. They can benefit from using the standards to identify strengths and weaknesses of their services and programmes. However, the challenge for this group is that they need guidance on how to use the standards. Practitioners can be quite sceptical about standards, but if you introduce the standards in a face-to-face meeting, discussing also how the standards apply to their concrete prevention projects, and if you address their concerns, we find that the feedback is very positive. We are currently developing materials to support different groups to apply the standards in a practical way.

Why do we now have a second phase of the project? Compared with the first phase, the partnership is much bigger, as we now have 16 institutions involved in the project.

The first phase of the project finished in 2011 with the publication of the quality standards by the EMCDDA. This was a big book with more than 200 pages. In the consultations with drug prevention professionals, it became very clear that if we didn’t undertake any follow-up activities, the book would just end up ‘on the bookshelf’ without having any impact on the quality of prevention in Europe. Instead, we were advised that we should keep promoting it, to make it widely known and used in practice. We also identified the need for user-friendly support materials which are targeted at specific professional groups, such as service managers or commissioners. This is what we’re focusing on in the second phase. This year we undertook additional consultations about how to promote use of the standards and we’re currently developing toolkits to complement the big book. The second phase also offered the opportunity to include new partner institutions who had expressed an interest in promoting quality standards but who had not yet participated in the first phase.

What do you think, what is the best approach to use standards in a practical way?

The really important thing here is to address misconceptions about how the standards should or shouldn’t be used. Many people are worried that introduction of quality standards will mean more administrative work, more bureaucracy, or that they will lose their funding. Our work with prevention practitioners suggests that the standards can be used in a much more positive way if they are seen as a practical tool to identify strengths and weaknesses of prevention activities. This is what we’re trying to promote through the support materials being developed in the second phase. This means that you can identify areas in your work that are in line with what is considered good practice at the European level. And the EDPQS also help you to identify areas for improvement in the future. Ultimately, all prevention providers want to do what is best for their target populations, and the EDPQS help them to do that.

We have just finished the EDPQS conference in Warsaw. What is your impression about it? Do you think that EDPQS will be useful in Poland?

The conference in Warsaw was a very useful event to promote the EDPQS and discuss their use in Poland. We had several speakers from the Prevention Standards Partnership who gave their views on the EDPQS. The questions from the audience suggested that there is a great interest in Poland in promoting quality in prevention, an interest towards evidence-based prevention. Several people said after the conference that they would be interested to offer training on the EDPQS in their local communes. There seems to be some insecurity about how the existing national standards and the national recommendation system in Poland can help to inform prevention practice in the country. I think the EDPQS can help to promote the national recommendation system, as they contextualise these national efforts as part of a broader European effort to promote quality in prevention. They help people to see that what is going in this country is in line with what is happening in other countries. In addition, the EDPQS are more detailed and more comprehensive than existing national resources, and so they can help Polish prevention professionals to achieve the national standards. Overall, I’m very pleased with how the conference went and I’m grateful that I was given the opportunity to present the EDPQS in person to Polish prevention colleagues.

You have been working in both phases of the projects. There are a lot of countries with different approaches to prevention. What was the biggest challenge for you?

I guess the greatest challenge has been to transfer the standards from paper to practice, which also requires making them attractive for the people working in the field. In the first phase of the project we focused primarily on establishing a consensus on high quality drug prevention in Europe. The resulting book will be useful to some professionals, but these are more likely to be highly motivated individuals who already know a lot about best practice in prevention. The book itself is not a sufficiently strong motivator to reach and produce change in those people who really need to learn more about quality in prevention. However, forcing the standards onto practitioners ‘from above’ can produce resistance and result in only superficial engagement with the standards. Our own experiences as well as the existing literature suggest that people will be much more likely to change their behaviour if they believe that the new practice is better than the old practice. If practitioners see the standards as a useful tool with clear benefits, it will mean that they want to use them and engage with them at a deeper level. But how to achieve this is something that we are still exploring. It’s an important aspect in the current phase of the project and will form the corner stone of any future EDPQS projects. The different approaches to prevention in Europe are relevant in this context, as target audiences want to see that the EDPQS are relevant in their specific context. At a more general level, however, different prevention approaches are not a barrier to standards implementation because the EDPQS aim to standardise the level of quality in prevention, they don’t dictate what approaches should be used. Also, prevention professionals from different countries frequently reported similar issues and concerns during the consultations, highlighting similarities rather than differences between European countries when it comes to raising the quality of prevention.

The Italian presidency has just started to work on promoting EQUS. What will be the role of EDPQS in EQUS?

To answer this question, it’s important to remember the differences between EQUS and EDPQS. The minimum European Quality Standards (EQUS) offer a short list of quality standards addressing different areas of drug demand reduction, not limited to prevention but also including treatment and harm reduction. Their main purpose is to offer a consensus document on minimum quality standards that could receive political support from national and international policy-makers across EU Member States. The EDPQS are different in that they focus only on prevention. Although they offer minimum standards, they also define a higher level of quality – you could say: the gold standard. They are therefore more detailed and comprehensive than EQUS. As I mentioned earlier, the EDPQS are intended as a tool for everybody working in prevention, especially practitioners. However, there is overlap between EQUS and EDPQS, as the prevention standards in EQUS were developed based on EDPQS. Therefore, we see EDPQS as a document that complements EQUS as a more in-depth resource. At the moment, there is a project ongoing to develop EQUS further to make it more relevant to the national policy-making level. We are collaborating with the colleagues at the Italian and forthcoming Latvian presidency to support this activity and to promote the use of quality standards.

Do you think that EDPQS could be used also for alcohol prevention?

Yes, definitely. The EDPQS were developed by synthesising 19 existing documents with national and international standards. Although we didn’t search specifically for quality standards in alcohol prevention, some of the included documents did explicitly target alcohol and drug prevention activities. Similarly, the people we consulted did not always work just in the illicit drugs field but typically had a broader remit in their work. I think this reflects the fact that prevention doesn’t have to address any specific substance. It may even be the case that substances are not mentioned at all. In reality, many standards within the EDPQS would be relevant for any kind of health or social intervention. This is because the EDPQS focus less on the content of interventions, and more on the structures and practices to enable high quality interventions (3). So although the topics may be different, the structures and practices required for a high quality intervention are actually very similar – for example, the importance of conducting a needs and resource assessments prior to implementing an activity. However, if we are specifically interested in alcohol prevention, then some standards, for example on substance use indicators, would need to be tailored to meet the specific requirements of alcohol prevention.

Where can interested prevention professionals find more information about the EDPQS?

We have a project website including a lot of information in English as well as selected materials translated in Polish and other languages. The National Bureau for Drug Prevention as well as the Masovian Center for Social Policy have been our project partners in Poland, and they can be contacted for further information. A quick guide to the standards in Polish will be published by these organisations at the beginning of 2015. We expect that the toolkits resulting from the second project phase will also be made available in Polish.

Thank you for the interview.


1. The Partnership currently comprises 16 organisations, led by Professor Harry Sumnall of the Centre for Public Health.

2. A Polish translation of the Standards is available at

3. In the Standards, “intervention” refers to any action or series of actions carried out in (direct) contact with the target population in order to achieve a particular outcome (e.g. to prevent or reduce drug use).


2-3 October 2014: Conference on European Drug Prevention Quality Standards in Warsaw, Poland

Artur Malczewski, National Bureau for Drug Prevention (NBDP), Poland

Every year, the Reitox Polish Focal Point organises an annual drug monitoring conference for local and regional governments. This year, the conference will be held on 2-3 October 2014 and it will be devoted to the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS), developed by the Prevention Standards Partnership and published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). The conference will also feature two thematic sessions on New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and harm reduction.

At present, Phase II of the EDPQS project is underway with co-funding from the European Union, to develop EDPQS support materials and promote uptake of the standards. During the conference in Warsaw, project partners from the UK, Italy, France, Czech Republic and Poland will deliver presentations on the standards. There will be also presentations from the EMCDDA and other countries such as Lithuania (prevention), Latvia (NPS and Latvian EU Presidency in 2015), Hungary (NPS), and Estonia (harm reduction). More than 100 persons from Europe and beyond are expected to attend.

The main aim of the conference will be to promote the EDPQS and to facilitate discussion about implementation of standards in the EU.

For further information and registration, please contact the Prevention Standards Partnership.


Related work in Quality Standards and Best Practice #1: Mentor ADEPIS, UK

The aim of the European Drug Prevention Quality Standards (EDPQS) Phase II project is to help those involved in drug prevention feel better equipped to develop, support and implement high quality drug prevention work. The Project will be developing support materials for different groups working in the field of prevention to help them apply these Standards in their work practice.

The EDPQS project is an important initiative that offers a reference point to others working on quality standards and best practice in prevention. Equally, the Prevention Standards Partnership is able to learn and gain from related work that is taking place in other countries and regions.

Our Related activites section offers an overview of international activity that is being undertaken or recently undertaken to address the support for and development of “best practice” and the promotion of high quality drug prevention. The following is the first of a series of blogs to provide details of such activities at national or international level, starting with the ADEPIS initiative in the United Kingdom.

ADEPIS – The Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Information Service in the UK

ADEPIS photo durham seminar

ADEPIS is a project funded by the Department for Education in England and run by Mentor UK, in partnership with two other organisations in the UK, DrugScope and Adfam.

ADEPIS provides a platform for sharing information and resources and is targeted at schools and practitioners working in drug and alcohol prevention. Launched in April 2013, it has undertaken a wide ranging mapping exercise with teachers, and developed a range of tools, briefing papers and guidance specific to alcohol and drug education and prevention.

Regional seminars have taken place to address effective drug and alcohol education; identifying and supporting vulnerable young people; and setting standards for drug and alcohol prevention and education.  Regional networking among schools, practitioners and academics has also been supported.

Mapping the experience of teachers

A mapping exercise was undertaken with teachers to identify how resources are chosen and used, the support currently available to practitioners and the perceived gaps. The findings, based on an online survey with 288 teachers (primary and secondary) and 20 follow-up telephone interviews, were drawn together into a report, which informed the development of ADEPIS.


ADEPIS has produced a number of resources for schools including:

  • a toolkit for helping schools review their alcohol and drug policies
  • a presentation and briefing for school governors to help them think about how their school can respond to alcohol and drug issues
  • a briefing paper to help schools identify and support children affected by parental substance misuse.

In addition, it has developed briefing papers which focus on topics that are current for schools such as caffeine and energy drinks, legal highs and e-cigarettes.

The project website has links to a range of resources and programmes, which includes evidence and research based programmes, lesson plans, research summaries, and government advice.

Drug and Alcohol Education Standards

The project offers proposed standards for alcohol and drug education.  These standards draw on existing national and international guidance, including the EDPQS, as well as examples of good practice in drug education and prevention.  They also reflect on feedback from teachers, practitioners and those who support school drug education in order to ensure that the standards provide the best current evidence and practice.

Each set of standards is being produced for a specific target group:

  1. Delivering drug education in the classroom as part of a planned PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) programme: For primary and secondary schools, independent practitioners or anyone else delivering alcohol and drug education, in formal or informal environments.
  2. School context for effective drug education: For school leaders and governing bodies, as well as other members of staff in primary and secondary schools – including free schools, academies, private schools, and faith schools – responsible for, or involved in the delivery of alcohol and drug education or policy.
  3. Staff policies and safeguarding: For external agencies delivering drug education within schools and employing staff and/or volunteers.

The Seminars

Seminars were held to bring together practitioners and academics creating an arena for sharing ideas, perspectives and examples on different aspects of alcohol and drug education and prevention.

Presentations and resources produced for the seminars are all available on the ADEPIS website.

Future plans

The next seminar will look at practical ways to deliver effective drug education and prevention in primary schools through the promotion of healthy lifestyles and positive behavioural choices. Future work will also explore classroom management programmes and the use of theatre in education.

By bringing together theory and practice the focus will move on towards developing efficient needs assessment in schools. A briefing paper and seminar will outline the uses and pitfalls of needs assessment, suggestions on effective ways to employ data to implement drug education and prevention programmes, as well as how to use screening tools in schools.

For further information see

Andrew Brown
Programme Manager
Mentor UK