“Surgir” 35 years Working in the Field of Substance Abuse Prevention

Second part of an interview with Margarita Sánchez, President of RIOD and Director of NGO "Surgir" (Colombia)

As Director-General of Surgir, could you explain what is Surgir, when it was created and what its purpose is?

MS: Surgir has been the very first organization in Colombia to develop coordinated drug prevention programs. This means that the history of prevention in Colombia is the same as Surgir's. The NGO was created at a time when the drug problem greatly expanded and for the first time it was considered important for the organized civil society to start addressing this issue. We have started our work with an investigation, an epidemiological study which objective was to shed light on the problem and to define an action plan consistent with this reality. We also made an advertising campaign and a drug awareness process with two purposes: introducing and promoting our action and mission and launching a nationwide dialogue with people from all walks of life, since Surgir is working throughout the whole country. Last but not least, last year was celebrated Surgir's 35th anniversary.

Surgir is an NGO dedicated to the prevention of the abuse of psychoactive substances and associated problems in a context of health promotion through the generation and monitoring of participatory research, education, management and communication processes, dedicated to contributing quality programs to a holistic human development and the improvement of the living conditions of communities, locally, nationally and internationally.

What is the latest project in Surgir

MS: (…) We are developing several projects, but the last project we have developed is our work in the workplace. We are adding another aspect to regular companies' drug policies, more specifically on the issue of drug prevention, identification of drug-related programs and addressing workers who are already involved in drug use.

We have also given much impetus to community work in recent years. We are mobilizing communities, creating support networks and counseling centers in order to better identify the problems people may have (…) Moreover, given the lack of responsiveness of governments, when addressing the problems people must face on a daily basis, this humanitarian work also becomes a means of exerting some pressure and empowering communities to be more supportive and complement one another while developments occur and new possibilities arise for people in need. 

In the business sector, Surgir develops support activities to preventive medicine programs that promote the prevention and control of drug abuse at the workplace through processes of training, education and communication campaigns, and counselling in the development of programs dedicated to  improving the quality of life for employees and their families.

"Surgir" Corporation