It is difficult to raise awareness about the risks of drugs to the point that it reduces use.
There are several challenges. First, it is difficult to gauge the effect of universal prevention because state of the art evaluations are rare. Studies are expensive and may take years to produce reliable results. Not all drug education programmes in schools have an effect on the use of drugs but a few do. The successful programmes should be embraced. The handful that actually increase drug use should be scrapped.
Second, target groups. While generally primary and universal prevention focus on large populations only a small minority of school children will use drugs or are at risk. Therefore, it might be more efficient to target the groups at risk instead of all school pupils
This requires identifying, risk factors at home, in the family and society. Drug prevention can never be effective if isolated from other areas.
There have been some lessons learned. Primary and universal prevention programmes raise awareness and knowledge but should never be used in isolation and are not always effective in reducing demand. Yet they should focus on risk groups using indicative information and addressing social factors.