| BRAZIL | MARCH 21, 2024 |

From Personal Hardship to a Positive Future

The Executive Director of the Foundation for a Drug‑Free World Brazil shares how she made drug education her number one goal.
Jane Nascimento is on a journey to help her country overcome drug abuse.

“It all started when I had an accident and fractured my vertebrae. It was two years of intense treatment that prevented me from working. Amid physiotherapy, doctor visits and medications, practically bedridden, I was looking for something about chemical dependency on the internet and found by chance the Drug-Free World campaign,” shares Jane Nascimento, Executive Director of Drug-Free World Brazil.

For Nascimento, this was her breaking point. She had just left a 26-year marriage to an alcoholic man, and her 17-year-old son became addicted to crack. She had met many families who were in desperate search of a solution and realized that she needed to do something to help.

“These were long years of suffering in search of knowledge and treatment,” says Nascimento. But in 2016, she contacted Foundation for a Drug-Free World and was invited to participate in a seminar. “I was introduced to all the educational material and was simply delighted. I was received with affection, attention and respect that I will never forget. Since then, I started a partnership with the Foundation and decided to never stop.”

Shortly after, Nascimento held a big march in the city of Frutal in Minas Gerais, where the military, police, scouts, churches, local clubs, therapists, martial arts groups, singers, former drug addicts, businesses and other members of the community marched hand in hand to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs. She then formed Drug-Free World Brazil, which has since been recognized by the federal government. She had finally found the tools she needed to achieve her goal: to raise awareness in the community about the harmful effects of drug use.

“It is entrenched in the Brazilian culture that only medicines can alleviate problems. Changing this concept is a great challenge. In pharmacies, medications are sold randomly, without a prescription, resulting in more and more people addicted to them,” explains Nascimento. “Brazil is the country that consumes the most crack in the world. In São Paulo, one can find ‘Cracolândia,’ which is a city block where crack users gather, freely smoke crack and deal drugs. Also, some governments are now trying to legalize drugs. In my opinion, the lack of public policies, public security and drug education in schools contribute to the increase of drug abuse.”

To accelerate the impact of the campaign, Nascimento established 67 groups across Brazil, comprising 350 volunteers. She and her team are raising awareness about drugs in their communities and, most importantly, in over 600 schools, where they reach kids at a young age so they can make informed decisions and avoid the path to crack and other harmful drugs.

“I feel grateful to be able to help. My mission is to use my experience and what I went through to bring solutions to others and share the materials provided by the Foundation for a Drug-Free World.”