Psychology Professor William Crano helps federal government fight drug abuse worldwide
Claremont Graduate University psychology Professor William Crano
is helping the US State Department develop a universal drug prevention curriculum for 26 countries in Asia and the Pacific.
Crano, one of the world’s leading drug prevention researchers, will join a team crafting curriculum for member nations of the Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic and Social Development in Asia and the Pacific. Some of the member countries have among the highest rates of drug abuse and drug-related deaths in the world and few or no effective prevention programs in place.
“We’re going to give them a strong educational backing for prevention programs based on what we know from years of scientific research,” Crano said. “Given the severity of some of their problems, even small changes will have big impacts.”
The Colombo Plan, established in 1951, is a regional intergovernmental organization that furthers the economic and social development of member countries. Those countries include Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.
In Indonesia, authorities are battling a skyrocketing rate of methamphetamine use, particularly among laborers, students, and sex workers, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). One recent survey estimated that the country is home to more than 3.7 million addicts. In Afghanistan, heroin is cheap and pure and on the rise, and drug use has grown by more than 50 percent since 2005. Reports indicate that some parents give opium to their children to quell hunger pangs or to treat common illnesses.
“When I started hearing some of the issues we would be dealing with, it put me on the floor,” Crano said.
Crano’s primary area of research is in creating persuasive messages to prevent drug abuse in children and adolescents.
“Professor Crano’s work brings great distinction to Claremont Graduate University, but more importantly his expertise will be invaluable on this project and will save many lives among people in the most vulnerable situations,” said President Deborah Freund. “This university has always been dedicated to research that has an impact on the world. There is no truer example of that commitment than the research of Professor Crano in the prevention of drug addiction.”
Crano is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science and has been a NATO Senior Scientist, a Fulbright Fellow to Brazil, and a liaison scientist in the behavioral sciences for the Office of Naval Research, London.
His involvement in the Colombo Plan effort stems from his previous work to help create global drug prevention standards for the UNODC.
According to Crano, global anti-drug efforts have typically attacked supply by supporting law enforcement actions against manufacturers and traffickers. Drug use prevention programs, meanwhile, have been ineffective, relying on exaggerations and misinformation in attempts to stoke fear.
“A campaign that really tells it straight, that shows the honest dangers of some of these drugs is what has been shown scientifically to make the biggest difference,” Crano said.