Involving Families in the Prevention of Addictions

The Rotary Action Group or Addiction Prevention supports a prevention programme soon to be implemented by Rotary Clubs in Spain and Dianova

“Together We Grow”

“Together We Grow” it not only a nice title for a prevention project involving families, it is also the key to successful actions in addiction care and prevention, namely: cooperation, cooperation, and once again, cooperation.

By Johan Maertens, Chair of the RAG AP Scientific Committee – The Rotary Action Group for Addiction Prevention (RAG AP) signed a global cooperation agreement with UNODC for addiction prevention. Very specifically, the agreement mentions the need to involve parents and families in as many prevention projects as possible. RAG AP also signed a strategic partnership with the NGO Dianova to promote collaboration in the field of addiction prevention.

Based on long-established research results from the field of social work, RAG AP wants to show that the prognosis looks better when the family is involved in the treatment. Likewise, RAG AP endeavours to involve the families and the community as much as possible in the prevention.

Gathering support RAG AP – Rotary – Dianova

Recently, RAG AP was contacted by Rotary District 2230, a Spanish Rotary club from Mallorca, with the request to support the project “Together, We Grow”. We were pleasantly surprised that there was already a Rotary project in development that corresponded to our cooperation agreement with UNODC and in which, moreover, our partner Dianova took the lead for the substantive work.

The collaboration focused on families through “online” meetings so that the programme could continue to work even during periods of COVID lockdown, when the problems identified become more severe.

Prevention through a systemic and task-oriented approach

Since the Rotary work year ends at the end of June, only preparatory meetings could be held before the vacation period. Each year Rotary clubs elect a new board that goes into action as of July 1; most decisions are not made by the clubs until the fall. In addition, COVID lockdown measures have greatly slowed down the operation and decision making within Rotary clubs and districts. In order not to hinder the development of the project, RAG AP decided to provide its support for integrating scientific research and measuring the project’s social impact, as a way to make further steps in its development and develop the materials necessary for its start-up. As a result, Dianova was able to get started and valuable time was saved.

Measuring the social impact

RAG AP supports Rotary clubs around the world to organize addiction prevention activities. To this end, RAG Addiction Prevention’s scientific committee developed a toolkit for measuring social impact. Measuring the social impact of actions is gradually becoming a condition for Rotary clubs to be able to set up projects with the support of the Rotary Foundation. Each project should be based on a needs analysis done by a group of stakeholders representative of the problem, and the local community. RAG AP calls this group a project committee.

Measuring the social impact of the project and its construction is also integrated into the toolkit whereby the various steps are divided among several surveys. The development of the toolkit is interactive. All partners can give comments or suggest additions to the toolkit so that the tool is constantly evolving and adapting to new situations. This developing tool thus provides a valuable support in the implementation of projects in the best possible way according to the expectations and criteria of Rotary International, while meeting the minimum conditions for scientific evaluation and social impact measurement.

In order to keep the toolkit in line with the rapidly evolving situation in Rotary International (RI) in this area, RAG Addiction Prevention works closely with the RI research team. For the development of social impact measurement, RAG AP is working closely with Cambridge researchers. They supervise and support the scientific partner of the project. For the project “Together, We Grow” this task was given to Prof. Antonio Molina from the Complutense University of Madrid.

On the occasion of the World Day against Drugs and Illicit Trafficking and in the framework of the virtual RI World Convention, RAG AP organized its first annual International webinar where the new projects were announced and discussed. The project “Together, We Grow” was also presented by Antonio Vázquez of the Rotary Club Junípero Serra and by Prof. Antonio Molina, while Rakoen Maertens presented the Social Impact Measurement Toolkit.

The key to successful actions: cooperation

“Together, We Grow” will be a prototype of the projects that RAG AP is glad to support. It brings together multiple regional Rotary Clubs to used pooled strength and resources around addiction issues in a community to identify the problems and their solutions in collaboration with all stakeholders, including the professionals – in this case Dianova – that will be in charge of addressing the problem through evidence-based methodologies, and evaluating the outcomes and social impact of their intervention.

Once the project is developed and running, it will be eligible for dissemination via Rotary throughout Spain as well as other Spanish-speaking countries with a few adjustments due to cultural differences. Nicaragua and Ecuador have already shown interest in this opportunity.

With nothing but satisfied partners with great perspectives, we now need a solid push to roll out the project. In cooperation with RAG AP, Dianova can start making contacts with local Rotary clubs to present their projects, start up a project committee together and implement new or existing projects. Also, where Dianova have contacts with Rotary clubs as was the case in Majorca, RAG Addiction Prevention can be involved as a partner in the project and add value in different areas through their support and the use of the Social Impact Measurement Toolkit.

“Together We Grow” is not only a nice title for a prevention project involving families, it is also the key to successful actions in addiction care and prevention, namely: cooperation, cooperation, and once again, cooperation.

Cooperation between parents, people who struggle with addiction, and the community at large. Cooperation between Rotarians and local stakeholders. Cooperation between NGOs such as Dianova, and the RAG AP. Cooperation between RAG AP, universities and RI international Research team… Because “Together, We Grow”!