On June 11th, the second workshop under the framework of the project “Building Networks Promoting Health” was held in Riga, Latvia. The Project is implemented in collaboration with ECAD, Kaunas, Tallinn, Riga, and the Public Health Bureau of Kaunas between December 2023 and February 2025 and is funded by the Swedish Institute.

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The workshop was officially opened by Mr Juris Radzevics, the Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee of the Riga City Council. He reiterated the importance of prevention but it also being used as a tool during the elections and often being ignored or being pushed aside after the elections. Cressida de Witte (ECAD) highlighted the need for the inclusion of youth in prevention programmes as co-constructors rather than passive participants.

The morning programme revolved around each participating city to share their prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation services available as well as existing challenges.

Martin Moors, Head of Social Administration and Deputy Director of the Welfare Department of at the Riga State City Government, presented the organisational scheme for youth who face behavioural problems, domestic violence, and substance use. He emphasised that addiction is not an isolated problem, but part of broader behavioural problems and which cause can be connected to typical defence mechanisms. He discussed the risk levels (low, medium, high) and corresponding interventions.

-            Low Risk: Episodic use, mostly alcohol, continuing school attendance

-            Medium Risk: Social/party use, occasional experimentation

-            High Risk: Use interferes with school, relationships, and moods, frequent substance use with peers

Riga’s social services approach is identified according to the risk levels. The Medium Risk group enters social rehabilitation programmes, with the Resilience Centre being one of the first that developed such a programme. For High-Risk Groups, there are only a few treatment options available, and they are connected to voluntary attendance, which can be challenging sometimes. He also highlighted the four social rehabilitation programmes for youth groups.

Agne Libore, Specialist in Youth Affairs at the Structural Unit ‘Ezmerala’, and Adrians Sprudzans, Social Educator at the Structural Unit ‘Ezmerala’ shared information on the crisis centre providing shelter and care for children and youth separated from families. The centre provided small apartment units for children aged 0-18, with the possibility of staying until 24 years old. They focus on maintaining clear limits and positive motivation for youth, especially those with substance use issues. They reiterated the need for collaboration between institutions. For example, in Ezmerala, there is collaboration with social workers and the police for unauthorised substance use incidents.

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Liina Kaev, Health Promotion Specialist of the City of Tallinn, presented the Planet Youth Programme (Primary prevention) Tallinn has adopted. The Planet Youth model focuses on time spent with parents, school, and peer groups. Within the programme, and in prevention generally, data collection is crucial for informed strategies. She reiterated that one has to start early with raising awareness and include not only parents and children but also other stakeholders, especially politicians. Prevention has to be deeply rooted and not be stopped once the next election arrives. She highlighted that it is important to stay ahead of the problem rather than running after the problem. As their next step, Tallinn will be working with schools and parents. The latter are, however, sometimes challenging to reach.

Kristina Navickiene, Psychologist of the City of Kaunas, focused on the prevention and early intervention activities provided by the Public Health Bureau in Kaunas, where they work with low-risk groups. Examples of activities include physical activities, quizzes, health battles, and interactive experiments showing the harmful effects of substances. They recently organised an online event for schools from around Lithuania in which students had to collaborate in teams to make a small performance to showcase how to say no. On May 31st, they organised the possibility for youth to return electronic cigarettes for a small price while sharing information on the harms. They also organise early intervention programmes which involve parents and children, aiming to motivate behavioural change through regular meetings and activities.

The morning programme was finalised by two youths from the Resilience Centre sharing their feedback on the Prevention Day organised by Riga on May 31st. The prevention day aimed to improve communication between youngsters and adults responsible for their wellbeing. During the day, an exhibition of photovoice was set up. Photovoice is a methodology in which participants use photography and stories to identify and represent issues that are important to them, allowing researchers, practitioners or policymakers to better understand the issue or problem under investigation. Additionally, a rap performance was given, which is also a form of expression. The youth did provide the feedback that even though they felt it was empowering, it could include more youngsters rather than politicians/specialists only to get more balance.

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The afternoon programme involved a visit to the Resilience Centre, which youth can visit and receive support and guidance through mentorship. During the visit, information about the centre was provided. Additionally, a workshop in photovoice was given in which participants had to make photographs of any object found on the streets which they could resonate with and add a text. By the end of the workshop, all photos and their text were discussed.

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On June 12th, the 29th ECAD Mayors Conference, titled "Times to Unite – Collective Actions in Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery," was held virtually in collaboration with Kaunas City Municipality. The conference featured discussions by experts on best practices, experiences, and tools for prevention and recovery from substance use.

The conference was officially opened by Göran Gredfors (Chair of ECAD) and the Mayor of Kaunas, Visvaldas Matijosaitis. Following the opening, Cressida de Witte introduced the project titled "Building Networks Promoting Health - Developing Substance Use Prevention Awareness Models in the Baltic Cities," which is implemented by ECAD, Kaunas, Tallinn, and Riga, and funded by the Swedish Institute. The project aims to create sustainable prevention awareness-raising models while strengthening capacities and connecting cities.

Keynote Speaker: Wadih Malouf (UNODC)
  • Emphasized the importance of prevention across all age groups, even during pregnancy.
  • Shared the importance of prevention being person-centred and gender-based.
  • While prevention requires long-term investment, it has a large return on investment of other costs, including violence and crime.
  • Discussed the UNODC's CHAMPS initiative, focusing on evidence-based prevention services and sustainable infrastructure.
  • Introduced the Declaration of Oviedo, which presents ten proposals for effective prevention in drug policies.
  • Highlighted the necessity of family-focused prevention and the importance of a multisectoral approach to support children and youth.
Speaker Highlights

Dave Higham (The Well Communities, UK):
  • Stressed the importance of including individuals with lived experiences in treatment and rehabilitation structures.
  • Highlighted the need to create a community in which one can grow and thrive
  • Shared the necessity of maintaining the culture and values of creating a community space empowering individuals to engage with the wider community in Lived Experience Recovery Organisations
Tina Miller (Florida Recovery Schools of Tampa Bay, Inc.):
  • Introduced the concept of Recovery Schools, which provide tailored support for students facing substance use and other challenges.
  • Emphasized the non-punitive, supportive environment and high success rates in recovery and attendance.
  • Shared their peer support programme in which graduated students support attending students, allowing both to further flourish.

Stig Erik Sorheim (EURAD):
  • Discussed global and European trends in cannabis policy.
  • Provided examples of countries that had [partly] legalised cannabis, followed by the increase of commercialisation.
  • Highlighted the complexities and consequences of cannabis legalization and the need for proactive evidence-based approaches to counteract the development.

Panel Discussion

Martina Rojnic Kuzman (City of Zagreb):
Shared Zagreb's initiatives to enhance mental health and prevent substance use among youth, including a month-long awareness campaign.

Prof. Mindaugas Stelemekas (Kaunas City Municipality):
  • Highlighted declining alcohol and smoking rates but rising e-cigarette use among Lithuanian youth.
  • Emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to prevention, including suicide prevention linked to substance use.
Johannes-Emmanuel Allas(City of Tallinn):
  • Discussed the implementation of the Planet Youth Programme to reduce drug and e-cigarette use.
  • Focused on improving children's sleep habits as part of the action plan based on survey results.

The conference underscored the importance of collaborative, evidence-based approaches in prevention, treatment, and recovery, and the need for continuous engagement and innovation in addressing substance use challenges.

Read the Full Summary Here
In nearly a week, our 29th ECADs Mayors Conference will occur virtually on June 12th between 13.00-15.30 CEST, titled: Times to Unite - Collective Actions in Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery.
We are proud to share our final agenda. The programme consists of internationally renowned experts in Prevention and Recovery highlighting tools and best practices in the field. Due to its virtual nature, the Conference will be easily accessible for all. Register here to attend the Conference!

In times with increased challenges of drug use in our communities, it is time to unite to work towards collective actions in prevention, treatment, and recovery. The Conference is a unique opportunity to meet fellow cities, strengthen capacities, and exchange best practices. Do not miss this chance and register today!

Read more: Last Chance to Register - 29th Mayor's Conference - June 12, 2024
Our 29th ECADs Mayors Conference will take place virtually on June 12th between 13.00-15.30 CEST, and is titled: Times to Unite - Collective Actions in Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery.
We are proud to share our final agenda. The programme consists of internationally renowned experts in the field of Prevention and Recovery highlighting tools and best practices in the field. Due to its virtual nature, the Conference will be easily accessible for all. Register here to attend the Conference!

In times with increased challenges of drug use in our communities, it is time to unite to work towards collective actions in prevention, treatment, and recovery. The Conference is a unique opportunity to meet fellow cities, strengthen capacities, and exchange best practices.

Read more: Programme Announcement - 29th Mayor's Conference - June 12, 2024
On April 19th, 2024, the Kaunas City Municipal Administration, the Welfare Department of the Riga State City Government, the Tallinn Welfare and Health Care Department, the Kaunas City Municipality Public Health Bureau, and the European Cities Against Drugs gathered in Kaunas, Lithuania to participate in the workshop “Experts in Action”.

The workshop is the first in a series of workshops as part of the project “Building Networks Promoting Health - Developing Substance Use Prevention Awareness Models in the Baltic Cities”. The project is a collaboration between Tallinn, Riga, Kaunas, and ECAD and is funded by the Swedish Institute. The project aims to strengthen capacities and develop a sustainable prevention awareness-raising concept for communities while building a Baltic & Swedish Network for Prevention. The project will include a total of three in-person workshops, 1 study visit, and implementation of the Prevention Days.

The workshop “Experts in Action” was opened by the Deputy Mayor of Kaunas, Mantas Jurgutis with the remarks that “there is a need for international expertise” to tackle substance use as the issue “is developing faster than the decision-making process”. He was followed by the Acting Secretary General of ECAD, Cressida de Witte, who highlighted the aims of the project, the importance of prevention, and the necessity of [international] collaboration, highlighting the micro- and macro-levels of prevention, the essence of youth engagement and input, as well as examples of international collaboration. After the opening speeches, the cities took the stage to present the challenges faced as well as the prevention efforts implemented.
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Deputy Mayor of Kaunas, Mantas Jurgutis  

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Cressida de Witte

First, Mindaugas Stelemekas, a member of the Kaunas City Municipality Community Health Council, presented the publications of the HBSC studies showcasing an increased number of e-cigarette users as well as cannabis. He shared that even though new laws have been imposed to reduce e-cigarettes by a ban on flavours, for example, due to a lack of enforcement restrictions are being ignored. Additionally, the fact that more and more countries are legalising cannabis use, the situation will become more challenging as a different message (of using the drug being safe) is being sent to the youth.

Second, Nikola Tilgale-Platace, Head of the Public Health Promotion and Prevention Division for Health Administration, and Katerina Ziga, Expert of the Public Health Promotion and Prevention Division of Health Administration, shared information on the governing structure of Riga and its main challenge with alcohol tourism and high substance use among youth until 17 years old. Tobacco addiction is most common, followed by technology addiction. Riga has joined various forms of collaboration to tackle the challenges and promote health while using different in-person and online methods for schools focusing on addiction prevention. Riga also offers an individual social rehabilitation programme with accommodation for individuals for whom other programmes do not work and do not have a family structure surrounding them. However, a main challenge within treatment and rehabilitation is the lack of motivation.
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Nikola Tilgale-Platace (Left) and Katerina Ziga (Right)

Third, Marika Kookla, Leading Specialist of Tallinn Welfare and Health Care Department shared the need for early prevention and highlighted the experiences and outcomes of the Planet Youth Programme which was implemented in Tallinn in November 2022. The model uses research findings about individual and societal factors to establish prevention models. The first survey, conducted in 2023, had a response rate of 74 per cent from 53 out of 57 schools in Tallinn, targeting youth between 15 and 16 years old. From the challenges identified, including the high percentage of youth having been drunk in their lifetime and tobacco usage as well as the easy availability of cigarettes and substances, Tallinn established a plan building on the prevention model for 2024-2025. The three main focus areas include sleep and sleeping habits, cooperation between schools and homes, and educating adults on risk behaviour.
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Marika Kookla

The afternoon of the workshop was dedicated to an interactive workshop, led by Liudas Svipas, Head of Vytautas Magnus University Training Programmes, to brainstorm and design a draft structure of the prevention day activities. These activities will be developed, with input from youth, for youth and society to raise awareness on prevention.
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ECAD's activities from year to year culminate in the annual ECAD Mayors Conference, hosted by a distinct ECAD member city every summer. Councillors and other politicians and policymakers convene with academics and civil society organizations to participate in seminars and study visits, discussing the latest developments in drug prevention efforts throughout Europe.

28th Mayor's Conference - Invitation - May 11th and 12th, 2023 - Malta
On May 11th and 12th, the 28th ECADs Mayor's Conference will take place at Dolmen Hotel in Qwara, Malta. We warmly invite you to join us and expand your knowledge on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and recovery. The conference will highlight best practices and research in the field. It will offer the opportunity to network with other ECAD members, representatives from local authorities, and non-governmental organisations. Registration is free for the first person attending from your organisation!

Additionally, the conference allows for a unique experience as it includes a full day of field visits on May 12th. All participants are invited to Komunita’ Santa Marija, which will be sharing information on their services, and their experiences, and will engage in discussions.

The Agenda has now been published! The deadline to register is April 22nd

Day 1

11/05/2023 | 09:00 – 17:30 | The Oracle Conference Centre - Dolmen Hotel Qawra, St. Paul's Bay
08:30hrs – 09:00hrs| Registrations
09:00hrs – 09:05hrs| Welcome Address by the President of Local Councils’ Association - Mr Mario Fava
09:05hrs – 09:15hrs| Welcome Address by ECADs Chairman of the Board from Kristiansand, Norway - Mr Viggo Lütcherath
09:15hrs – 09:20hrs| Welcome Address by the Parliamentary Secretary for Local Government - Hon. Alison Zerafa Civelli
09:20hrs – 09:40hrs| Inspirational speech – “Push yourself to do it because no one else is going to do it for you” by the President Northern Regional Council & LCA Executive Member - Mr. Clifford Galea Vella Maslennikov
09:40hrs – 10:30hrs| Panel Discussion and Presentation – Discussing the Local Context

The prevention team within Sedqa would like to present the following studies.

Study 1: The Role of a Workplace Policy in Addressing Employees’ Substance Misuse Difficulties.
Aim: To explore the probability of an employee seeking support for a substance misuse difficulty elicited by the workplace ethic fostered by management. Through this paper, we seek to determine a possible correlation between the implementation of a substance misuse policy at the workplace, and employees’ probability to seek guidance and support from their employers for a substance misuse-related difficulty.
Study 2: A Substance Misuse Policy in the Workplace: Senior Leadership Teams’ Attitudes
Aim: To explore how senior leadership teams’ (SLTs) attitudes inform the drafting of a substance misuse policy and how those attitudes inform job retention procedures in the case of an employee disclosing a substance misuse difficulty. Uncovering SLTs’ attitudes toward addiction is essential to understand how these beliefs inform workplace policy aims and actions on substance misuse.

Keynote speakers representing Sedqa Prevention team:

Mr Jareth Grima – Social Worker
Ms Sheryl Spiteri – Prevention Team
Ms Stephanie Mizzi Cascun – Prevention Professional.

10:30hrs – 11:00hrs| Coffee Break

11:00hrs – 11:45hrs| Mr Jon Sigfússon Planet Youth – Evidence-based drug prevention.
Mr Sigfússon is the international programme director for the evidence-based Planet Youth Guidance primary community-based health promotion intervention. Over the course of 20 years, Mr Sigfússon directed the Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis (ICSRA).

11:45hrs – 12:30hrs| Mr Matej Košir - Strategies and tactics to prevent cannabis legalisation in Slovenia - The power of prevention science and advocacy.

Mr Matej Košir has been working in prevention and advocacy in the field of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs for around 25 years. Since 2006, he has been involved in more than 30 European projects in the fields of health, justice, education, youth and research as a project or work package leader.

12:00hrs – 14:00hrs| Seated Buffet Lunch

14:00hrs – 14:45hrs| Profs. Christian Thurstone, MD - The impact of legalisation in Colorado, USA – challenges faced by [local] authorities and communities.
Profs. Thurstone is a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado and a child psychiatrist who specialises in addiction treatment. He published some of the first papers on the potential effects of marijuana legalisation on youth and has devoted his professional life to preventing and treating adolescent substance misuse.

14:45hrs - 15:30hrs| Ms Mulka Nisic - Recovery Cities - Creating sustainable connections and networks in cities.
Ms Mulka Nisic has been involved as a Regional Project Manager and International Relations Officer at the NGO Celebrate Recovery, and Secretary General of the Recovered Users Network-RUN.

15:30hrs - 16:00hrs| Conclusive Remarks
16:00hrs – 17:30hrs| ECAD Plenary for ECAD Members only
19:30hrs – 23:00hrs| Welcome Dinner at The Pavilion Suite, Westin Dragonara St Julian’s - Separate Registration is required in the application form.

Day 2
12/05/2023 | 09:15 – 19:00
09:15hrs – 09:30hrs| Transport leaves from Dolmen Hotel & Salini Resort to Komunita Santa Marija
09:30hrs – 09:45hrs| Registration and Welcome Coffee
09:45hrs – 10:15hrs| Introduction to the services offered by Komunita’ Santa Marija.
10:15hrs – 11:00hrs| Sharing of good practices and discussion
11:00hrs – 11:30hrs| Tour around Komunita’ Sanata Marija premises
11:30hrs – 12:00hrs| Transport to Ħagar Qim in Qrendi
12:00hrs – 13:15hrs| Ħagar Qim Visit
13:15hrs – 13:30hrs| Transport to Xgħajra
13:30hrs – 16:00hrs| Lunch (you will have time for a short stroll by the seaside)
16:00hrs – 18:00hrs| Cultural Visit in Mdina – Visiting the National Museum of National History
18:00hrs – 19:30hrs| Visiting Dingli Cliffs
19:30hrs - 15:30hrs| Transport to Salini Resort and Dolmen Hotel

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27th Mayors Conference - Gothenburg and online 2022

The 27th Mayors' Conference and 8th World Forum took place in Gothenburg and online 13-14th June 2022.

The World Forum and Mayor’s Conference is a meeting place for people from all continents who are working to prevent drug abuse, ensure evidence-based and gender-sensitive practices, increase access to treatment, and to promote recovery and reintegration services. This global forum is one of its kind where NGOs, self-help groups, treatment centres, scholars, local, regional, and national authorities, politicians and other decision-makers, and others from around the world will meet to share evidence and best practice experiences. This year’s World Forum will include three main tracks: Prevention, Treatment/Recovery, and Advocacy, which will stretch over 1,5 days followed by the WFAD Congress and ECAD Mayors plenary session. 

We are proud to announce that the Forum was inaugurated by UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly and will be joined by experts from around the world.

Read more on the website: https://2022.wfad.se/ and access the full report here
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26th Mayors Conference - Cork 2019



and 6th World Forum Against Drugs

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Conference materials

Kevin Sabet, PhD, Director, Drug Policy Institute, University of Florida, President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), USA
Speech at the WFAD /ECAD 25th Mayors Conference, Gothenburg, May 15, 2018 (Video 5min.)

Supply reduction in Peril?  A lot of the worlds`s drug supply emanates from a war-torn Columbia.
Dr. Michael Jonsson, FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Text to the slides (PDF)
In Columbia, a peace deal has been struck, which gives hope for a closure of insurgency and violence. (PDF)

Thomas Pietschmann, Dr, Drug Research Section, Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs
The International drug control system, global/regional and national drug patterns and trends, and supply reduction efforts at the international level (PDF)


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Photo: Götaplatsen @ Klas Eriksson

Annual Mayors` Conference and the 6th World Forum Against Drugs will take off on May 14-15 in Gothenburg this year.
This joint event will address a growing interest to the effective prevention practices, full recovery and alternatives to incarceration and to life-long dependency on drug treatment.
The conference will create a room for elaborating a practical guide to how a recovery city will look like, this will be grounded on the recent evidence-based research.
Sheffield Hallam University (UK), Ghent University (Belgium) and the City of Gothenburg have already started working on this guide in practice.

In order to find out more and to register please visit a joint webpage here.

 WFAD logo jpg  Logo Gothenburg


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ECAD 24th Mayors` Conference materials

On June 12-13, the city of Kaunas hosted ECAD 24th Annual Mayors`s Conference 2017

Safe Cities Without Drugs. Preventing, Protecting, Policing

Key-note speakers:

David W. Spencer, Field intelligence Manager, Drug Enforcement Agency, European Region

Supply reduction and dismantling drug trafficking organizations: In what ways can local communities benefit (PDF)

Kim Nilvall, Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, Intelligence section, Organized crime

Police work in socially disadvantaged areas in Sweden: Impact of drugs on urban crime (PDF)

 Torsten Stodiek, Deputy Head, Strategic Police Matters Unit, Community Policing Advisor, Transnational Threats Department, OSCE

Preventing terrorism and countering violent extremism and radicalisation that lead to terrorism:

A community and intelligence led policing approach (PDF)

Jon Sigfusson, Director for Icelandic Centre of Social Research and Analysis, Reykjavik University, ICSRA

Youth in Europe and Planet Youth (PDF)

Laimonas Vasiliauskas, Senior Specialist, Serious and Organized Crime Department, EUROPOL

European Illicit Drug Market (PDF)

 Antonio Boscini, Health Director, San Patrignano Community, Rimini, Italy

Recovery and social reinsertion: San Patrignano Community model extended (PDF)

a wall of participants



 Conference Booking Form

@ Rokas Tenys, the Kaunas Castle

Kaunas Castle
Picture: @Rokas Tenys

Warm welcome to Kaunas, Lithuania!

Archives of ECAD's mailed newsletters from 2003 until 2013. To subscribe to ECAD's new email-based newsletter, click here.
Official ECAD mission statements in six different European languages.
The ECAD Resolution, crafted at a conference to increase cooperation between cities, provides inspiration and hope for areas with particularly difficult drug problems. The signatories to the resolution will affirm their decision to fight against the spread of drugs.