| SPAIN | MARCH 28, 2024 |

Former Drug User Now at Forefront of Drug Education in Spain

Alfredo Riaño Luque tackles drug education in Valencia, Spain, through seminars and interactive workshops.
Alfredo Riaño Luque has educated thousands on the harmful effects of drugs.
Alfredo Riaño Luque has educated thousands on the harmful effects of drugs.

One may know it as cannabis, marijuana, weed or any of many other names. In Spain, 28.6 percent of students aged 14–18 years old tried cannabis in their lifetime. On average, youth tried cannabis for the first time at around 15 years old. And 41 percent of Spanish students consider that it is easy to access cannabis, a percentage higher than the European average.

Meanwhile, the amount of THC—the active component creating the “high” and marijuana’s other effects—found in cannabis has increased from 4 percent in the 1990s to 20 percent or more in 2022. With cannabis use on the rise, there is a lack of drug education to allow youth to make their own decisions about this drug.

Remedying this is the mission of Alfredo Riaño Luque, President of the Foundation for a Drug-Free World Valencia.

Riaño draws his passion for drug education from his own experience as a past heavy drug and tobacco user starting at age 11. Tobacco usage evolved into cannabis and alcohol, followed by cocaine from age 18. Riaño refers to this as “his undoing,” causing him depression and misery. This journey to hell continued until he used LSD, which he says, “Completely destroyed my life.”

After going through a drug detoxification and rehabilitation program in 1992, Riaño became clean and has been ever since. In 2016, he joined the Foundation for a Drug-Free World in Spain to hold drug education activities, mainly targeting alcohol and marijuana, the two predominant drugs in the country.

As a longtime professional public speaker and lecturer, Riaño designed an interactive conference dedicated to the topic. The format includes the creation of workshops with children and adolescents to teach them about the effects of drug use in a fun and engaging way.

Following many such successful events in schools, Riaño was requested to deliver similar presentations to the police, army, public institutions and other organizations, becoming a recognized authority on the subject of drugs in Spain. Riaño has shared his message with countless listeners and viewers through radio and television interviews.

And what is the result of his work? Surveys from his conferences show 85 percent of attendees now understand the true effects of drugs.

The impact is best summarized by Riaño himself: “There are personal stories that are very moving: young people who cry when I give the lecture, others who go directly home to manage a personal situation with siblings or even parents with alcohol problems and schools that receive calls from parents stating their children came home very excited with what they had seen.”

Participants become ambassadors themselves and share this information with their friends and relatives.

Riaño’s future goal is to expand the seminars to all of Spain, including reaching athletes and the military. This movement is already well underway. He is teaching the police to deliver drug education workshops in schools. In his own words, “It is an honor to carry out this work. And there is no greater satisfaction than helping the new generation to have a drug-free planet.”

Find out the truth about marijuana here.