IT HAS ALMOST BEEN 2 YEARS since the beginning of the pandemic, and the research data on the effects of COVID-19 on the behaviour of individuals and the consumption of various psychoactive substances are constantly increasing. The growing use of social media has not only promoted negative drug-related behaviours but has also offered media users the opportunity to buy cannabis, prescription medication and other controlled substances across multiple platforms. This seems to be particularly important not only because young people are the main users of social media, but also because there is growing evidence of an association between social media exposure and drug use. On the other hand, the readiness of treatment and welfare programs in an ever-changing environment is not to be taken for granted. The right to treatment and the responsibility and professionalism of services are concepts that may -at times- be influenced by phenomena that arise through the prevalence of other priorities and requirements.
In this context, the qualitative study of Zagorianakou and Papanastasatos explores the particularly interesting issue of eclecticism in social care and health care services from the perspective of employees. Τhe qualitative study focuses on the challenges that this entails for drug addiction treatment programs. On one hand the researchers focus on the recognition, or not, of the phenomenon by the employees, and on the other hand on the possible indications that identify selective behaviours, prevalence of various stereotypes as well as on the behaviour and attitude of both the employees and the organizations. Although the study did not identify an institutional eclecticism for those served, it does emphasize that stereotypical behaviours exhibited by professionals put forward informal obstacles to the right of certain categories of individuals to access services. In general, the phenomenon is critical with plenty of challenges for drug addiction treatment programs that are increasingly under pressure to present high efficiency indicators as translated from areas of activity unrelated to social care.
Pappa’s and Ladas’ paper focuses on prevention and in particular it explores the views of teachers with regards to the implementation of prevention programs that will intervene on the occurrence of addictive behaviours in schools as well as the role of art as a tool for the implementation of such programs. The quantitative study of 109 Primary School teachers highlighted the elevated awareness levels of teachers about the issue of students’ addictive behaviours. It also emphasized their positive attitude towards a holistic policy of the school system on the issue of prevention and the necessity of using art as a prevention tool in the school environment, underlining its protective role in preventing the use of psychoactive substances.
The paper of Giannoussas, Selpesakis and Bellou also focuses on the school environment. It studies the perceptions of adolescent high-school students with regards to alcohol, illegal substances, smoking, mobile phones, internet, gaming and gambling. The quantitative research on 1,370 students showed that alcohol and cannabis were identified as the most common substances of abuse among participants. Providing evidence of the binge phenomenon in adolescents as well as the escalation of cannabis use at the age of 15. Among the important findings is the high level of accessibility and involvement of participants in the use of mobile, internet and gaming, demonstrating the importance of timely intervention and the usefulness of establishing and developing services and networks.
From an international perspective, we selected a large-scale online survey of 31,964 adults from 21 countries conducted by Kilian et al., that was originally published in the journal Addiction in 2021, and dealt with the changes in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. The research findings showed that alcohol consumption seems to have decreased during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, and this is mainly due to the reduced availability of alcohol and less to the elevated stress levels of the population.
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