Relevance of the use of psycho-educational strategies in the prevention of drug abuse


Relevance of the use of psycho-educational strategies in the prevention of drug abuse

Pertinencia del empleo de estrategias psicoeducativas en la prevención del consumo de drogas



Evelyn Fernández-Castillo1*
Osana Molerio-Pérez1
Yohandra Rodríguez-Martínez1


1 "Marta Abreu" Central University of Las Villas. Department of Psychology. Santa Clara. Villa Clara. Cuba.


*Author for correspondence. Email:




The psycho-educational strategy is a valuable tool to successfully carrying out the preventive activity that becomes especially relevant in the field of university extension, in turn, it´s one of the fundamental areas of work of the health professional. The authors of this research paper intend to socialize their knowledge obtained from bibliographic studies and work experiences in their employment for the prevention of drug abuse in adolescents and young people. They emphasize their characteristics, which constitute proven experiences: integrate a system of educational actions aimed at stimulating the ability of young people to recognize the possible damages, the degree of vulnerability and consequences of consumption, enhance the mechanisms of self-regulation to avoid or reduce this behavior (and consequently vulnerability), assume healthy behaviors, and take advantage of the possibilities offered by the university context as an educational community.

MeSH: drugs; health promotion; strategies; education, medical.


La estrategia psicoeducativa constituye una valiosa herramienta para realizar con éxito la actividad preventiva que cobra especial relevancia en el ámbito de la extensión universitaria y es, a su vez, una de las áreas fundamentales de labor del profesional de la salud. Los autores de esta comunicación pretenden socializar sus conocimientos obtenidos a partir de estudios bibliográficos y experiencias de trabajo en su empleo para la prevención del consumo de drogas en adolescentes y jóvenes. Enfatizan en sus características, las cuales constituyen vivencias comprobadas: integrar un sistema de acciones educativas orientadas a estimular la capacidad del joven para reconocer los posibles daños, el grado de vulnerabilidad y consecuencias del consumo, potenciar los mecanismos de autorregulación para evitar o reducir este comportamiento (y consecuentemente la vulnerabilidad), asumir comportamientos saludables, y aprovechar las posibilidades que ofrece el contexto universitario como comunidad educativa.

DeSC: drogas; promoción de la salud; estrategias, educación médica.



Submitted: 13/02/2019
Accepted: 24/02/2020



Drug abuse constitutes a serious health problem.(1) In this area, prevention is considered of paramount importance because it emphasizes the active and self-regulatory potential of people to take responsibility for their own well-being.(2) The American Psychological Association(3) enunciated guidelines for prevention in Psychology, highlighting the need to implement actions based on scientific evidence and adjusted to the context, which respond to the needs of its members. It is pointed out that the interventions carried out must be evaluated, and they require integrated and coordinated work to ensure compliance with the proposed objectives. It emphasizes early intervention and the reduction of risk factors and enhances protection factors.

Psycho-education is a valid alternative to respond to these demands, that´s why the authors in this research paper intend to socialize on the characteristics that the psycho-educational strategy for the prevention of drug abuse in adolescents and young people should have, it´s based on bibliographic studies and their personal experience

By systematizing studies where psycho-educational interventions are carried out, an essentially informative conception is evident, characterized by: involving a person providing information and a user receiving that information, from this perspective the passive nature of the participants has prevailed.(4) As a trend their primary objective is to offer information about drugs and their risks, use educational videos and readings with an emphasis on health and lifestyle, and they are characterized by being less interactive. It has been shown that the least efficient interventions are those that focus exclusively on knowledge.

In the authors' opinion and based on the analysis of these limitations, it is considered that psycho-education should be understood as an educational process aimed at stimulating psychological resources in people with or without diseases, having their needs as references.(5) This process pursues the search for learning to achieve a commitment to health care. It must be conceived as a planned, gradual, bilateral, active and projected process towards the future, to stimulate self-awareness and favor self-education. It allows the systemic integration of the methods used to achieve the proposed objectives.

These conditions have as a reference the fundamentals of the theory of education.(6) An important element to guarantee the effectiveness of the actions is to identify the deficiencies that the participants have regarding the topic that is intended to be addressed, so that the content and the methods used correspond to the age and maturity achieved by them. The actions carried out must be properly planned and their level of complexity must be progressive. Therefore, it is a process that has two important components: the psycho-educator and the person (s) to whom the actions are directed. It is considered that the fulfillment of the educational objective must correspond to the ability to self-transform and organize the life and activity of the people who participate. It is important to keep in mind that many times these results do not immediately manifest, but that education is understood as a process that aims to prepare man for life.

From this conception, action plans, strategies and psycho-educational programs are designed with a preventive scope. Its use has been perfected according to its interactive, flexible and contextualized character.

The strategy can be conceived as the way to plan and direct actions to achieve certain objectives. Its purpose is to overcome difficulties with an optimization of time and resources. From the above it is inferred that they are always aware, intentional and directed to the solution of problems of the practice, and they not only demand the knowledge of the capacities of the people who implement it but also those to which it is addressed to.

Among the characteristics of the strategy as a scientific result are: its conception with a systemic approach in which coordination relationships predominate, its structuring from phases or stages, from the diagnostic phase, programming and implementation to the evaluation phase; the contradiction between the current and the desired state of a specific object or situation, which is resolved from the programmed use of certain resources and aids, its dialectical nature and validity at a specific time and context, although it is recognized that some of its actions can be repeated in other spaces; it is also recognized that it is a fundamentally practical result, although it does not deny the existence of theoretical contributions for its conformation.(7)

In consideration of the authors, these theoretical elements allow us to conclude that the psycho-educational strategy for the prevention of drug abuse must include a system of educational actions aimed at stimulating the youngster's ability to recognize the possible damages, the degree of vulnerability and consequences of its consumption, depending on which self-regulation mechanisms are formed to avoid or reduce this behavior (and consequently vulnerability) and assume healthy behaviors. It must also take advantage of the possibilities offered by the university context as an educational community, and in this context it is valuable to incorporate peer promoters in the preventive process, through the education of equals.(8)

This type of strategy becomes relevant for educational and university extension work that is carried out in Cuban universities, and especially in the field of medical education whose fundamental objective is aimed at achieving a comprehensive, harmonious and balanced development of the personality of young people as a way to preserve them from drug abuse and train them as comprehensive professionals.



1. Observatorio Europeo de las Drogas y las Toxicomanías. Informe Europeo sobre Drogas 2019: Tendencias y novedades. Luxemburgo: Oficina de Publicaciones de la Unión Europea; 2019.

2. Roca M. Introducción a la Psicología Clínica. La Habana: Editorial Félix Varela; 2001.

3. APA. Guidelines for Prevention in Psychology. Am Psychol [Internet]. 2014 [citado 14/04/2019];69(3):[aprox. 11 p.]. Disponible en:

4. Hennessy EA, Tanner-Smith EE. Effectiveness of brief school-based interventions for adolescents: A meta-analysis of alcohol use prevention programs. Prev Sci [Internet]. 2015 [citado10/04/2019];16(3):[aprox. 12 p.]. Disponible en:

5. Montiel VE, Guerra VM. La psicoeducación como alternativa para la atención psicológica a las sobrevivientes de cáncer de mama. Rev Cubana Salud Pública [Internet]. 2016 [citado 11/04/2019];42(2):[aprox. 5 p.]. Disponible en:

6. Labarrere G. Teoría de la educación. Pedagogía. La Habana: Pueblo y Educación; 2007.

7. Rodríguez-del Castillo MA, Rodríguez-Palacios A. La estrategia como resultado científico de la investigación educativa. En: de Armas N, Valle A, editors. Resultados Científicos de la Investigación Educativa. Universidad Pedagógica "Félix Varela": Centro de Ciencias e Investigaciones Pedagógicas; 2011.

8. Fernández-Castillo E, Rivas E, Molerio-Pérez O, Duarte EL. Efectividad de la Estrategia psicoeducativa para la prevención del consumo de alcohol en estudiantes universitarios. Rev Hosp Psiquiátrico La Habana [Internet]. 2017 [citado 24/04/2019];13(3):[aprox. 14 p.]. Disponible en:



Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



Authors' contribution

Evelyn Fernández-Castillo: proposed the idea of the research paper and has systematized the theoretical methodological foundations of the use of psycho-educational strategy in the field of addiction prevention.
Osana Molerio Pérez: participated in the elaboration of the theoretical methodological foundations of the use of the psycho-educational strategy in the field of the prevention of addictions that are defended in the research paper and the revision of the research paper.
Yohandra Rodríguez Martínez: participated in the elaboration of these theoretical and methodological foundations, in the practical application of psycho-educational strategies for the prevention of addictions in adolescents and young people, so her contribution was important in the process of the research paper development. She revised the manuscript.



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