Every year an estimated 210 million people use illicit drugs, with almost 200,000 of them dying annually. Drug use and drug trafficking are not only a health threat, but also threaten global stability and socio-economic development across the world.
Yet despite the challenges posed by drugs, the impact can be mitigated. By taking a balanced approach that addresses the supply of drugs and confronts the demand with sound preventive action, societies can make a difference in curbing the negative impact of drugs. In addressing drug use prevention, treatment and care, UNODC, along with leading civil society organizations, promotes approaches that empower and support community-based strategies and by doing so put people at the centre of this response.
The most successful approaches in drug use prevention involve the critical role of families, schools, and communities to build on protective factors to ensure safe and healthy childhood and adolescent years and to provide viable and legitimate livelihoods for adults. Similarly, the most sustainable and successful treatment and care options are those which are tailored to local needs and mainstreamed into local healthcare systems and services. When it comes to preventing drug abuse and tackling drug trafficking, community-centred approaches are the most effective.
Global health starts with drug-free communities
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing the drug challenge. Each community has a unique set of problems and circumstances. This is why tailored actions developed with the participation of all concerned sectors of society - from families to schools to local health service providers and law enforcement professionals - are the best options in addressing drug-related problems. Community-based interventions also make sense financially; by working together, communities can create synergies, build upon existing infrastructures and leverage resources.
Equally important is that by approaching the drug issue from an inclusive and participatory perspective, community-based interventions will ensure that every sector of society feels ownership and responsibility to do their part in addressing this challenge. Only by working together can we create a healthier and safer world that is not plagued by drug-related crime and violence, and where the vulnerable feel they can have hope for the future.
Communities can take action
A range of options are available in taking action against illicit drugs. Here are a few examples of what can be done in your community:
- Get informed and educate community members, students, parents and professionals about drugs and its negative effects to individuals and society Visit www.unodc.org/drugs for the facts
- Involve schools, parents, local police, businesses, media, faith communities, health professionals and civil society to raise awareness of this issue
- Support or sponsor meetings in town halls, congregation places, sport centres and other communal places to raise awareness of the negative impact of drugs and to promote healthy lifestyles
- Work with local media outlets to spread messages and distribute information