Social Integration in the Americas

Tools for the development of local drug policies with a focus on social and vocational integration

People of various ethnic background

People affected by problem drug use can only achieve sustainable recovery if emphasis has been put on their social and vocational reintegration – Photo: Shutterstock

By Javier Arza – As stated in the Hemispheric Drug Strategy (2020) of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), social inclusion should be one of the cross-cutting themes of any initiative or intervention carried out as part of each country’s drug-related policies. For this reason, and within the framework of its Health and Life in the Americas programme (Salud y Vida en las Américas – SAVIA), CICAD recently published two documents aimed at strengthening public policies at the local level, through a more comprehensive and inclusive approach.

The first document, entitled “Guide to institutional leadership in the development of drug policies aimed at social reintegration”, provides a comprehensive conceptual framework for understanding the link between drug use and social exclusion. Supported by extensive literature references, the document emphasizes the need to develop drug policies that address the social determinants and risk factors that influence the lives of individuals, families, groups and communities. The document is grounded in the following argument: people affected by problematic drug use can only achieve a sustainable recovery if a number of initiatives aimed at facilitating their social and vocational integration are developed from the start. In addition, the document highlights the need to take into account gender and diversity aspects, as well as the need for strong institutional leadership to promote these policies at local level.

The second document, complementary to the previous one, is entitled “Model of social and vocational integration of people with problematic drug use at the local level”. It is a practical and concrete proposal for the implementation of social and vocational reintegration services at local level. Four consecutive and complementary steps are proposed for this purpose.

Firstly, the creation of a round table bringing together various community stakeholders in order to not only carry out a community diagnosis of the existing vocational opportunities, but also to design a community action plan for social and vocational integration.

From there, the social and vocational process of each individual is co-implemented. This process consists of the design, implementation and monitoring of a chain of non-linear initiatives focused on improving each participant’s employability conditions.

The third stage provides each participant with accompaniment, support and guidance with the aim of facilitating the acquisition of skills and knowledge, reinforcing motivation, and clearing the way for salaried or independent employment.

Lastly, the fourth stage is devoted to the support and follow-up during employment, both for the participant and for the company in which they work.

Each stage is described in great detail, including the objectives to be achieved, the activities to be implemented, the persons in charge and the approximate duration of these activities. In addition, following the document’s applied approach, its annexes provide interested local agents with various practical tools.

Both documents can be downloaded on the CICAD/OAS website through this link