Drug Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation

In 1998, having recognized the seriousness of the world drug problem, Member States convened a special session of the General Assembly at which they committed themselves to a vigorous plan of action to reduce both the supply of and demand for drugs. As a result, UNODC assists Member States in developing best international practices with regard to the treatment and rehabilitation of drug users and prevention activities that provide people, particularly at-risk youth, with the information, skills and opportunities to make healthy choices, including that of not using drugs.

Leading the way

As the lead United Nations entity tackling drug demand reduction in South Africa, UNODC Southern Africa has partnered with the Government of South Africa through various relevant national departments in implementing a series of large-scale projects.

In 1999, UNODC Southern Africa launched the project "Community-based Counselling, Treatment and Rehabilitation Services for Drug Abusers in Disadvantaged Areas" with the Department of Social Development. Aimed at preventing and reducing drug abuse by mobilizing support at all levels in previously disadvantaged communities of South Africa, the project offered treatment and counselling to drug users, while offering viable alternatives to recovering addicts, and developing the talents and skills of populations at risk in these communities, in particular youth.

In 2004, in partnership with the National Department of Education and the National Department of Social Development, UNODC Southern Africa implemented the " National Drug Awareness and Schools Education Programme", whose immediate objectives were the following:

1) To provide support to the Government, on a pilot basis, in the implementation of the national policy and guidelines on substance abuse prevention and management, in primary and secondary schools as well as in further education and training institutions;

2) To assist the Government in the development and implementation of a context-sensitive drug awareness and advocacy strategy in South Africa aimed at preventing drug abuse and create awareness on HIV/AIDS among at-risk youth.


Currently UNODC Southern Africa and the Provincial Government of the Western Cape and through the Department of Social Development is implementing the "Drug Demand Reduction and related HIV Prevention Project in the Western Cape Province". The project's overall objective is to reduce drug abuse, related HIV/AIDS and other unhealthy behaviour among youth and other vulnerable populations in the Western Cape Province. A comprehensive set of measures for HIV/AIDS prevention and care among drug users is being provided to enhance the capacity of government and NGOs to deliver efficient and effective services and programmes.

In particular, the project will establish:

  • A reliable baseline database and an efficient monitoring system on drug use and related HIV in the Province;
  • Well targeted prevention interventions among youth, drug users, sex workers and other vulnerable populations, through community outreach and school initiatives; and
  • Provide drug dependence treatment for drug users, either on a limited in-patient basis or on an out-patient basis, to stop or reduce their drug use and risk-behaviour likely to increase their vulnerability to HIV infection for those who are HIV -ve, and increase compliance to HIV care for those who are HIV +ve, thus reducing the risk of infecting others.


In 2005, in partnership with the Ministry of Internal affairs and Public Security, UNODC Southern Africa implemented a project entitled "Malawi Pilot Drug Awareness and Capacity Building". The objective of the project was to raise awareness on drug abuse and related HIV/AIDS transmission among youth in selected beneficiary schools and communities through the development and implementation of a context-sensitive drugs and HIV/AIDS awareness campaign, as well as an advocacy strategy.

Join the fight against illicit drugs

Each year, the global community observes 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, which was proclaimed by the General assembly in its resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987. The day - commonly referred to as World Drug Day - is an important opportunity to continue to raise public awareness, in Southern Africa and globally, about the fight against drug use and trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.