Economic and Social Council


805th Plenary Meeting
12 July 1954

1954/548(XVIII)I.Drug addiction*/


The Economic and Social Council,

Considering that one of the main purposes of the international control of narcotic drugs is the prevention and elimination of drug addiction, and that, in order to prepare international measures to achieve that purpose, it is necessary to arrive at a fuller understanding of the causes of addiction and to examine methods of treating addicts and of restoring them to society,

Noting that in their annual reports a number of governments have reported increases in the number of addicts,

Noting that the number of addicts reported, having regard to the information available about the extent of the illicit traffic, nevertheless appears to be an under-estimate,

Observing that considerable inequalities in licit consumption of narcotic drugs exist in countries with comparable social conditions and social services,

1. Calls the attention of the governments concerned to the necessity for making, as soon as possible, in accordance with domestic law and public policy, systematic arrangements for the effective control and the registration of addicts by medical or other health authorities;

2. Invites the governments concerned to give attention to the sources from which addicts derive their supplies, not only in connexion with measures concerning the illicit traffic, but also in order to ensure that licit but insufficiently regulated therapeutic use should not constitute an important source of supply and, in this connexion, draws their attention to the desirability of using a system of official forms for prescriptions for narcotic drugs;

3. Stresses the importance of the questions relating to addiction contained in the form of annual reports prescribed by the Commission for 1954, and urges governments to take, as far as practicable, measures designed to enable them to furnish the information requested therein;

4. Draws the attention of governments to the scheme of topics annexed to this resolution and urges governments which are making or contemplating making surveys of addiction, or other special studies or inquiries in this field, to have regard to that scheme in framing their plans; and requests governments to communicate the results of such surveys or studies to the Secretary-General;

5. Stresses the importance for governments to consider the setting up of means for the treatment, care and rehabilitation of drug addicts, on a planned and compulsory basis, in properly conducted institutions;

6. Requests the Secretary-General to continue his studies, within the framework of the scheme referred to and as information from governments becomes available in annual reports and otherwise, and to submit the results from time to time to the Commission;

7. Expresses appreciation of the work carried out by the World Health Organization in this field, and of the assistance given by that Organization to the United Nations, and invites the World Health Organization to continue its close co-operation with the United Nations in this respect.

805th plenary meeting,
12 July 1954

*/ Adopted as recommended by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in a draft resolution (E/2606-E/CN.7/283, annex A, para. 8), with minor amendments.


Collection of information, or studies of the following topics might be considered under paragraph 4 of the operative part of the resolution:

I. Statistical information

A. Classification of addicts, such as:

Revised 8 May 1980

Types of classification: sex, age, social and economic status; health status; occupation; urban or rural residence status; geographic situation (altitude and climate, etc); race or nationality; background of criminal or anti-social behaviour; addicts also using alcohol, barbiturates, etc.

B. Reporting of addicts:

1. Whether compulsory or voluntary;

2. Whether a register of addicts is kept and, if so, whether central or local.

3. Whether narcotic prescriptions are collected and scrutinized by appropriate authorities;

4. Sources of information:

(a)**/ Official - e.g. police, customs, welfare, etc., officers, official hospital authorities or doctors, court proceedings, etc.;

(b)**/ Unofficial - e.g. doctors, nurses, pharmacists, clergy, social workers, etc.

II. Treatment of addicts

A. Compulsory or voluntary:

Compulsory treatment: scope: addicts, recidivists, criminal offenders (selected groups), addicts endangering welfare of family or capacity to fulfil civil obligations (national service), juveniles (age limit); initiation of treatment by: family, guardians, public health authority, other law enforcement officers, others.

B. Institutional or non-institutional treatment:

1. Institutional: closed or otherwise, public or licensed private, general or special ward (mental or specifically for addicts), prisons;

2. Non-institutional: out-patient departments, private and public health doctors.

C. Degree and character of control of public authorities over use of narcotic drugs in treatment and dosage.

D. Committing authority: court, other public authority, parent, guardian, others.

E. Methods to be used to enforce compulsory treatment.

F. Methods of medical treatment.

III. After-care and rehabilitation

Compulsory or voluntary: psychiatric, vocational guidance and training for juvenile addicts, occupational therapy, group therapy after leaving institutional care, follow-up and supervision of rehabilitated addicts (by parole officers, social workers, religious groups, teachers).

IV. Question of the cost of treatment, after-care and rehabilitation

V. Treatment of addicts in penal law

A. Penalties for the unauthorized use of narcotic drugs as such under certain circumstances.

B. Penal provisions intended to enforce compulsory treatment and after-care.

C. Application of system of parole and suspended sentences to drug addicts.

D. Treatment of addicted prisoners, isolation cure and after-cure.

E. Proselytism.

F. Crimes or offences committed by persons while under the influence of narcotic drugs.

VI. Education and propaganda

A. Question of conditions under which education and propaganda can be useful in combating drug addiction.

B. Education and propaganda direction to members of the medical and allied professions in order to inform them of (i) the problems involved, (ii) the part they are expected to play.

**/ It is appreciated that in some instances, for reasons of police security or from need to respect professional secrecy, governments may not be willing to give exhaustive detailed information. In such instances governments are asked at least to indicate whether the source is official or unofficial and, if the latter, to give an estimate of reliability.