Forging friendships in the fight against drugs

Twice a week three colleagues from Automotive & Aerospace Coatings in Asago, near Milan in Italy spend their evening at the nearby Association Amici contro la Droga (Friends against Drugs) Center. From 9 to 12 pm they help this non-profit organization with the preparation of drug prevention sessions at schools by writing reports, making Power Point presentations, cleaning the center, etc. During the year various events take place throughout weekends where our volunteers help by collecting donations as well as by transporting other volunteers - mostly professional doctors and psychologists - and materials to these venues, using their own cars.

Amici contro la Droga has been actively engaged in the recovery of people suffering from a wide range of addictions since 2001. Many people, mainly addicted to drugs and to gambling, have been helped to regain a normal way of living. One of the aims of the Association is the dissemination of drug prevention messages among the younger generation mainly in high schools, oratories and block parties to combat the spreading of psychotropic agents such as alcohol and drugs. Several projects have been put in place together with collaborating institutions often self-financing in order to get the message of a drug free life across.

Our colleagues from Automotive & Aerospace Coatings had heard about the prevention work for young people by Amici contro la Droga and with the AkzoNobel Life Saving Rules policy in mind, they decided to make a contribution to this worthwhile goal. Their initial efforts were directed at administrative support and cleaning of the center. Funded by the Community Program drugs tests, a PC, beamer and printer could be purchased. The collaboration between our colleagues and the Association’s staff became more intensified after they had designed a project focused at school pupils between 10 and 14 years old as well as their parents.

Prevention being the key word in the battle against drugs and other addictions, the sessions were aimed at increasing the awareness about general health conditions, providing correct knowledge to users, improving the awareness of problems and give possible answers and providing assistance in making the right decisions. Young people were made aware of the use of drugs and tobacco and its consequences, using various methods and techniques. The adults were provided with knowledge about all kinds of substances in circulation and on the psychological aspects relating to the taking of such substances. At the same time they were given more tools to handle different situations, while eliminating taboos and stereotypes concerning the social workers and trying to obtain a better understanding of their role.

The reactions of the participants after the first sessions were very positive and it is expected that the chosen approach is certainly going to bear fruit. Big smiles and good coffee were sufficient to reward our dedicated volunteers. An invitation was extended to all people involved in the project to pay a visit to the AkzoNobel site at a later stage to learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol within the scope of our Life Saving Rules. Real friendships have been forged in the fight against drugs!