While prevention science has advanced over the past 30 years in terms of the conceptualisation and accumulation of evidence of effective interventions and policies, prevention in real-life practice lags behind in most EU Member States. Prevention providers often use unproven and ineffective prevention strategies without scientific foundations. Evidence however suggests that the success of prevention interventions depends not only on whether effective interventions are available, but also to a greater extent on the people who implement them and their level of training.

The Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC) will be pilot-implemented in 9 EU Member States (Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain). The UPC was developed through the US-based organization APSI (Applied Prevention Science International) with renowned prevention researchers in the US. It is based on UNODC’s International Standards on Drug Use Prevention and the EDPQS (European Drug Prevention Quality Standards). The UPC includes: physiology and pharmacology, monitoring and evaluation, prevention in the areas of family, school, workplace, media and community.

The project partners bring together findings from a mapping and analysis study of prevention training in Europe with expert opinions as a resource for adaptation of the UPC. With local translations and smaller country-specific adaptations 11 institutes in the 9 EU Member States establish a pilot-training for mixed groups of stakeholders involving civil society, public authorities as well as NGOs, prevention practitioners and coordinators, the academic world and policymakers. The training is designed in three distinct modules based on again a thorough study phase including focus groups and online surveys.

The pilot trainings are delivered in a short module (e.g. one week and a follow up session), an extended academic module (e.g. a series of courses in one semester at a Faculty), and an online module with an e-learning basis. The structure of trainers is built up as a cascade train the trainer (TOT) model, where trained trainers can, in quality-controlled conditions, further disseminate the UPC.

International expertise is maximally present. UNODC (United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime), EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction), EUSPR (European Society for Prevention Research) are supporting partners contributing to the virtual and face to face meetings, as well as the US-based APSI developers who are safeguarding the scientific rigor and logic rationale of the original UPC. With APSI we also engage in a vast collaboration for the adaptation and training development. The composition of 11 partners from 9 countries in the UPC-Adapt proposal brings in national but also international robust expertise from various prevention related disciplines and working areas.

Project partners also make full use of previous EU-funded projects by seamlessly building further on the EDPQS, European Drug Prevention Quality Standards, and the SPAN (Science for Prevention Academic Network) project: we utilize tools, methods and results from these successful projects several partners participated in.

The outcomes and deliverables are put open source and for free: the UPC as such in 9 languages, training manuals and materials and process or study reports. The national trainers will be taken up in the network of EUSPR, where a specific educational section is assuring the sustainability of the important result of trained trainers who are able to deliver a UPC in a standardized way.

The UPC-Adapt proposal brings together science and practice by disseminating a standardized research based curriculum to prevention professionals with respect for adaptation and the reality of the working floor. The proposal joins forces of the academic, civil society and policymaker’s worlds by multi-discipline training events. It opens the lid of a box with complex but fundamental debates on learning outcomes, quality standards and staff competence for the working area of drug prevention.