Investigating adolescent substance use and risk behaviours in the Mediterranean region: where do we stand?
Mediterranean countries are heterogeneous in relation not only to socio-demographic and cultural aspects, but also to the different dimensions of the drug phenomenon and the level of implementation of effective instruments to tackle them. The overall aim of the symposium is to present the new results of the MedSPAD project, set up, designed and funded by the Pompidou of the Council of Europe. MedSPAD is aimed at building capacity and develop effective tools for monitoring youth substance use and risk behaviours in countries of the Southern Mediterranean region, including Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Lebanon, where no such information existed before. This is done by means of a close cooperation with neighbouring countries of the Northern rim, which since several years participate in the ESPAD project and hold a relevant expertise. The monitoring system being developed includes not only the construction of a cross-national student population survey in Southern countries comparable with ESPAD, but also the systematic collection of information relevant to contextualise the phenomenon including socio-economic indicators, comparative analyses of policies related to alcohol, tobacco, drugs and gambling in each participating country and official drug-related statistics. This allows to bridge a relevant gap in research by identifying common challenges and provide indications for common drug policies in the region. For the first time the results are based on a joint database and will be published in a brand new report to be launched in November 2022. This will contain the comparative analysis of the perceived availability, early onset and patterns of use of alcohol, tobacco and drug use collected among 35,000 adolescent students in the Mediterranean region. Furthermore, for the first time estimates will be published concerning high-risk cannabis use, gambling, gaming and social media use in participating countries. The Lisbon Addiction conference will provide an ideal showcase for the 2022 MedSPAD regional report, which is based on data from twelve Mediterranean countries. Finally this session will allow to get an insight into the monitoring of substance use in the African region and possible cooperation to develop integrated monitoring tools.