Partnership story

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Drug abuse prevention in Brazil funded by private sector


The programme, “Drug Abuse Prevention in the Workplace”, was developed by the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in partnership with a Brazilian state agency, the Social Service of the Industry of Rio Grande do Sul (SESI-RS). It is based on a model developed by two other UN agencies, the International Labor Organisation (ILO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and has been adapted to the Brazilian working environment.

The Vice-Ministry of Drug Prevention and Social Rehabilitation, SEAMOS Foundation, and United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) sponsored a seminar on drug prevention in the workplace and in the community. Two Brazilian experts conducted the event. The objective of the seminar, held on April 14 in the auditorium of the National Chamber of Industry and Commerce, was to promote the UN’s inter-agency drug-prevention model, which is currently being applied in Porto Alegre, Brazil, through the project, “Drug Prevention in the Workplace and in the Community” (BRA/972), financed by UNDCP and the Brazilian private-sector organization, Industry Social Service (SESI).

The programme first assesses substance abuse habits within companies, and then places their employees into three categories: green (people who are healthy), yellow (those who have some problems with drugs and alcohol) and red (those who require special treatment). Ademir and Valdir were both put into the “red” group.

Each category has specially designed activities. The “greens” take part in an education campaign and activities that involve their families. The “yellows” concentrate on self-change, prevention assistance and the training of managers and supervisors. The “reds” receive intensive treatment, followed by reintegration into the workplace environment.

“Drug Abuse Prevention in the Workplace” caught the attention of American Tool and 50 other Brazilian companies that wanted to increase productivity by promoting a healthier workplace. Collectively, these businesses have seen a 29% decrease in late arrivals, 14% reduction in absenteeism and a 35% decrease in work related accidents. Illicit drug consumption has dropped by 70%. As a result of their success, this programme is being replicated in other Brazilian states and South-American countries.

ILO estimates that each dollar invested in the “Drug Abuse Prevention in the Workplace” programme is worth $10 to $15 in increased worker productivity. It also means that people like Ademir and Valdir are living healthy and fruitful lives.