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Research and Practice of Health Promotion

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Volume 15: New Approaches to Preventing Drug Use

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Volume 15: New Approaches to Preventing Drug Use




Online counselling, using drugcom.de as an example


Brochure, 79 pages


Within the past decade, the medium of the internet has rapidly gained in importance within the Federal Republic of Germany. Scientific investigations have showed that internet usage is particularly widespread among adolescents and young adults and thatyoung people predominantly use this medium for communication (e-mail, chat) and tosearch for information.

In 2001, against the background of this development, the Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) established www.drugcom.de, an internet portal for drug and addictionprevention. The target group of this initiative is adolescents and young adults between theages of 15 and 25 who have used drugs. The primary aim of drugcom.de is to provide information on the effects and risks of drugs and drug use, to encourage visitors to the siteto adopt a self-critical attitude towards their own usage behaviour and to promote as risk-free an approach to psychoactive substances as possible. The drugcom.de website containsa large amount of information on specific questions concerning drugs and addiction, a freely-accessible chat room and the opportunity to discuss specific questions concerningdrugs and addiction in a one-to-one chat online with a professional counsellor.

Between summer 2001 and the end of 2006, around 3000 young people emailed the drug-com.de team to ask its advice and more than 2000 adolescents and young adults madeuse of the opportunity to obtain advice via a chat session. Between the start of the programme in autumn 2004 and spring 2007, more than 1000 people made use of the internet-based counselling programme known as "quit the shit", which specifically targets cannabis users.

On the one hand, this volume from the series "Research and Practice in Health Promotion" sets out the conceptual and empirical bases for the online counselling provided bydrugcom.de. On the other hand, it describes the users of drugcom.de, which questions and/or issues are relevant here and how the counselling concept can be implemented methodically.

This volume highlights the fact that the provision of counselling online is an importantand successful instrument for selective and indicated prevention and can be a goodsupplementary measure alongside other prevention strategies. We hope that this specialistpublication will meet with interest from those working in the field and will constitute an important foundation for further development of health promotion and addictionprevention measures on the internet.