Promotion of Well-Being to Face Issues Related To Violence And Drug Use

Promotion of Well-Being to Face Issues Related To Violence And Drug Use

The problems associated with the use of drugs and violence stand out among the main challenges in the area of public health, education and security policies. There is an important interface between drug use and violence, demonstrated by the strong association between episodes of violence and substance use. In addition, these conditions share similar factors of individual and social vulnerability. Numerous attempts to address these problems based on repression and focusing on the associated pathologies, were fruitless. In the last decades, new approaches have been proposed, focused on promoting well-being, as part of preventive or therapeutic actions. Several research groups from Unifesp develop research related to this subject. In recent years, these groups have participated in joint discussions to develop collaborative and convergent projects and have identified the need to establish international partnerships to accelerate scientific advancement in these areas. There is a need for in-depth studies to evaluate and compare the impact of different types of public policies already used in different countries, as well as to study the biological, psychological and social vulnerability factors in different contexts and cultures, to develop new approaches appropriate to the Brazilian reality. This proposal has as its initial step the promotion of a scientific meeting integrating the different areas (Health, Education, Security, Justice, Social Assistance) with national and foreign researchers who have been outstanding in the study of this subject and have the readiness to develop international partnerships in research and extension projects. After the event, we will organize courses to be given at Unifesp by researchers from several countries to deepen the knowledge on specific issues. Before or after the courses, they will participate in research missions to develop international multi-center projects. These partnerships are expected to develop a strong network of international collaboration; increase innovative and high quality scientific production, as well as train Unifesp human resources in this area.

Research Lines

  • Analysis of the Influence of Genetic Polymorphism Associated with Reward and Stress Neurosurgeons and Environmental Stress in the Development of Alcohol Dependence

Drug dependence is a worldwide and a frequent problem involving young people and adults, with alcohol being the drug most commonly used and associated with numerous social and health problems. However, not all people who drink alcohol become dependent. The transition from occasional use to dependence is influenced by positive reinforcements (pleasure resulting from use) and negative reinforcement (relief of unpleasant symptoms such as stress or depression or withdrawal symptoms). There is a lack of knowledge about the factors responsible for this transition. Several neuroadaptation processes are triggered by the chronic use of the drug, including tolerance and sensitization, involving several neurotransmission systems. Understanding the genetic basis underlying changes in reward and stress systems may contribute to understanding the mechanisms involved in the reinforcement that leads to dependence on alcohol and other drugs. This project aims to study the association between the presence of polymorphism in genes associated with reward and stress neurocircuits, the presence and perception of stressful events in childhood and adulthood, and alcohol dependence. The study will include 400 individuals, 200 people diagnosed as dependent on alcohol (in life) and 200 people not dependent. The presence of polymorphism in the genes associated with the neurotransmitters, receptors, enzymes and transporters of the Dopaminergic, CRFergic and Noradrenergic systems, history of stressful events in life through the Life Experiences Survey (LES), the experience of traumatic experiences through the Trauma Questionnaire in Childhood (QUESI), the current condition of perceived stress through the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10) and which situations trigger drinking through the Inventory of Situations of Drinking (ISB).

  • Well-being program in schools

The intervention in Mindfulness has been shown to be one of the main practices promoting wellness, aiming to regulate not only the attention but also the emotions, facilitating the dealing with the possible feelings of frustration that arise, and also alternative forms of self- motivation. These qualities do not refer only to developing attention and emotional self-regulation, but also pro-social dispositions such as empathy and compassion, self-representations, ethical sensitivity, creativity and problem coping/ solving skills, allowing the preparation for future challenges. In this way, the school welfare program is part of the proposal of the Center for Applied Research in Welfare and Human Behavior. The purpose of this research is to develop and test the effectiveness of a program of interventional practices oriented to emotional education in schools, integrating Mindfulness techniques with teachers, students and assess the repercussion of Mindfulness techniques with the families of the children in schools of the municipality of São Paulo. Internationalization can facilitate the expansion of knowledge in the area and the elaboration of new proposals that include school, family and community in the management of prevention and health promotion bequeathed to well-being.

  • Innovative interventions in the face of problems related to alcohol consumption in Brazil: Search for new approaches to an old public health issue

This project involves several researchers from UNIFESP and researchers from the USA, Australia, the Netherlands, India, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Problems related to alcohol consumption stand out as priorities in public health. This is an old question which, despite the scientific advances, still involves numerous challenges, such as the risks among young people, the difficulty of early detection of dependence, stigma, relapses and the articulation of the network of multiprofessional care. In the last decades, there has been great technological advance; new models of education have gained prominence, as well as the promotion of health and well-being, harm reduction and family and community approaches. In line with current perspectives, this thematic project aims to develop, adapt and evaluate innovative interventions aimed at some of the most challenging problems related to alcohol consumption, based on the experience and articulation between national and international researchers with a solid technical and scientific background from different areas of knowledge. The approaches to be studied were selected from international scientific evidence and theoretical assumptions valued in our culture. Methods: The interventions will be developed or adapted by qualitative techniques of data collection and analysis. Efficacy evaluations will be performed by randomized controlled clinical or community trials with inferential statistical analysis. Technical and scientific meetings are also planned for the discussion of results and potential practical applications. As a result of the project, we expect to expand the range of interventions evaluated to our reality, as well as to strengthen the research and training network in the area.

  • Integrator Project: Interfaces between violence and drugs

Interfaces between violence and drugs (collaborative proposal in the design phase (among the Interdisciplinary PGPs in Health Sciences (B. Santista), Social Sciences (Guarulhos) and Psychobiology) based on individual projects already under way, some with funding. The interfaces between violence and drugs are multiple. With the national drug policy as a common transversal guideline, it is intended, in the present study, to investigate and reflect on some aspects of this relationship. The use of drugs is an   ancient cultural practice in the history of humanity, and the socio-historical and cultural context in which it is inserted interferes with the meaning of its use, as well as with the consequences of this use. The current drug policy model focused on reducing drug demand and supply has been ineffective, contributing to increased violence, as well as incarceration, health risks to drug users, and targeted stigma and prejudice to this population, especially among those who present greater social vulnerability. The relationship between violence and drugs can also be understood from the epidemiological approach and also from the concept of biological and social vulnerability. Genetic characteristics may contribute to different types of reactions in situations of violence, especially in the early stages of development (childhood and adolescence), which is known to increase vulnerability to problems with drug use. On the other hand, violence is also a consequence of the problematic use of drugs. This thematic project has as main objective to bring together researchers from different areas of knowledge to propose more effective interventions to deal with this problem. It is intended to develop and / or adapt interventions that have not yet been studied in Brazil, but which have proved effective in the international scientific literature both for the prevention of violence and drug abuse and for the treatment of those who already have substance-related problems, victims or perpetrators of violence. This objective will be achieved through a partnership with national and international researchers with technical and scientific recognition from different areas of knowledge. Method: People with problems associated with drug use and / or violence in relation to genetic, psychological and social characteristics will be studied in the search for risk factors. Interventions will also be developed and their effectiveness tested by means of randomized controlled clinical trials with inferential statistical analysis. Throughout the development of this project, meetings will be held to plan new approaches and discuss results, aiming at the implementation of innovative, tested and adequate interventions in the Brazilian context. This study is expected not only to increase knowledge about the relationship between violence and drugs, but also to develop more effective ways to prevent violence and drug abuse, as well as to promote the well-being of the population vulnerable to these problems. Part of this study is already in the advanced phase of data collection.

Partner Countries: Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, United States of America and Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, India, Uruguay.

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Maria Lucia O.S. Formigoni