H.E. Dr.Layla Al-Hayas, Executive Director of the Community Development Sector at the DCD in Abu Dhabi, confirmed that the Integrated Strategy to Combat Addiction in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi will help prevent substance abuse through early detection of drug use cases before they develop into addiction and promote mechanisms for reintegrating patients into the society and early intervention through programs that will be activated in cooperation with partners in the Emirate.
Furthermore, H.E. pointed out that the Strategy activation will greatly contribute to reducing the social stigma associated with substance abuse cases and changing the community’s culture around addiction as a disease that requires immediate intervention by providing treatment and integrating recovering patients into their families and into the society as a whole.
A plan was developed to activate the Strategy through two phases. The first phase includes a set of initiatives that include raising awareness in the society, changing the community’s culture about addiction disease, and understanding its nature to provide the necessary support through families and the society. In addition, an awareness campaign was launched on social media platforms under the slogan "My Community is with Me", which targets members of the community with the participation of various related sectors, such as the health sector, education sector, social sector, police sector, and judicial sector. The campaign focuses on identifying protective factors and the importance of early detection, treatment, and aftercare. The Strategy's awareness campaign was recently launched on social media platforms and reflected a remarkable success since its launch; the campaign exceeded one million views during the third week of its launch.
During the first phase, the taskforce will also activate a school-based prevention program to prevent substance use in the school environment in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in coordination with the Early Childhood Authority. Meanwhile, primary healthcare services is being activated in cooperation with the health sector by defining the scope of services and referral procedures at the level model of care and developing and necessary tools to activate services across different levels.
The second stage of the Strategy implementation will start by 2023 and end in late 2024 as a set of initiatives will be launched as part of the stakeholder operational plan.
The Strategy includes five pillars: supply reduction (control), prevention, detection and treatment, reintegration, and finally the enablers pillar, which includes representatives from various entities in the Emirate representing the various sectors that are all contributing to the full activation of the Strategy. They will also work together to develop a policy that ensures the preservation of the identity and confidentiality of patient information, activate an integrated case management system, establish robust procedures for recording and monitoring risk factors at an early stage to provide appropriate interventions and reduce abuse, and establish a specialized committee for substance abuse and addiction cases.
Recent studies and global figures issued by competent entities in the field of addiction control show that youth and adolescents are among the categories and groups most at risk of starting to abuse substances for many reasons, such as poor parental skills, neglect of the child's emotional needs in early childhood, adolescence and family problems, and the lack of social and life skills. Many studies also point to peer pressure and its role as a risk factor for abuse; therefore, the strategy focuses on equipping families, children, and adolescents with the skills needed to cope with peer pressure.