Crano talks drug prevention strategies inside a country ravaged by opioids


With the growing use of fentanyl and other powerful (and lethal) opioids, Brazil's drug problems are getting worse. In addition, with Brazil’s neighbor, Uruguay, having legalized marijuana, Brazilians are focusing on prevention to try and offset the problems that their neighbors could create on their behalf.

Health professionals there are on edge as the number of deaths from overdoses continues to rise-especially among young users tempted through the intense highs promised with your a deadly combination as heroin laced with fentanyl. Use of other psychoactive substances also is worrying. Meth and marijuana seem particularly well-liked by Brazilian youth.

DBOS' William Crano traveled to Brazil this fall to deal with the substance use crisis in his keynote remarks at the international conference, Espirito Freemind. Crano addressed a crowd of some 1,400 substance abuse prevention and treatment professionals.

He also led a training course around the Universal Prevention Curriculum for Media-Based Prevention that he developed for their state Department and the Colombo Plan, to Brazilian professionals.

\”They're using a big problem there. It could be a whole lot worse than ours,\” said Crano, a leading estimate the field of international drug prevention efforts and the holder from the university's Oskamp Chair in Psychology. \”Nobody knows how to proceed. Prevention models often aren't based on evidence. They're handled in a by-the-seat-of-the-pants way, and as a result, they usually fail. It's not evidence-based, and that's what it needs to be.\”

To drive the purpose home that prevention must be evidence-based, Crano's keynote-titled \”Exporting Laboratory Science to Mass Media Persuasion Campaigns\”-addressed the requirement for better purposes of the research and evidence we've regarding how to persuade people when developing media-based messages to alert them to the dangers of substance use and addiction, especially among the adolescent population.

\”Adolescents take huge chances and they have no idea what they're doing,\” he said. \”That's what really motivates me-to reach these kids. And when that will happen, as likely to succeed, the media has to use better persuasive techniques to reach them.\”

Prevention Instead of Recovery

Conference organizers invited Crano as a result of his extensive involvement using the drug prevention efforts of the United Nations and U.S. State Department.

Crano said one of the greatest issues that prevention proponents face-especially when it comes to getting funding-has related to the fact that funders often overlook prevention and concentrate immediately on treatment and recovery efforts. \”These efforts are clearly necessary, but we believe prevention is the best treatment.\”

\”They're thinking that the goal is to buy users neat and keep them straight,\” he said. \”But it's even more vital that you stop them from ever starting. That's where we have to focus our prevention efforts.\”

He's also very candid concerning the mistaken assumptions many people bring in to the field of prevention.

\”I tell them that if you are going to do this kind of work, you can't assume that you're smarter than everybody else which you are going to discover the secret. \”It's been tried one thousand times before, and it has failed. You need to develop prevention messages which are in line with the science of persuasion,\”

He emphasizes the importance of the appropriate use of strong media messages and involving parents, whose role as opinion leaders can make a big difference.

\”Some parents don't wish to be engaged simply because they think they do not know enough and don't desire to be embarrassed before their kids,\” he said. \”But I tell them to forget that. All they need to say to their kids is one thing like, 'Look, for something which alters relative it is, it could do something to your brain. You may not want to take that risk?' When parents do simply that, it's been shown to possess a strong effect.\”

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