New UNODC initiative works with youth to address substance abuse

Youthimage03 February 2012 - UNODC has launched an initiative for young people, particularly teenagers, to utilize social media to discuss and act against substance abuse.

Through the social media platform Facebook, young people will connect with each other from around the globe to discuss, share, inspire and learn from each other ways of promoting a healthy lifestyle free from drugs. UNODC will moderate discussions and give guidance to planned activities through posting monthly themes and sharing reliable sources of information on drug use prevention strategies.

"This is the first time UNODC seeks to give such a clear role to young people to take action themselves rather than be passive targets of prevention activities provided through traditional prevention programmes," said Gilberto Gerra, Chief of the Drug Prevention and Health Branch of UNODC.

"The Youth Initiative seeks to empower youth to take action based on their own views and needs. It calls on young people to begin an open dialogue about substance abuse in their schools and communities, to take action against it and to advocate for substance abuse prevention. We are hoping that youth groups will develop their own local activities, and that they will share them with us and with each other worldwide, eventually creating a global movement," he added.

In taking the lead for this community process, young people will actively support a life free from illegal drugs, respect for health, social cohesion and solidarity as alternatives to isolation and social exclusion. A number of young people participating in the initiative will be invited to attend the session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to be held in 2012 to present their views regarding dealing with substance abuse and to learn about international drug policies.

In his message for the International Year of Youth last year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "The idealism and creativity of youth are some of the most important resources any country has. Young people are already leaders, combating poverty and hunger in their communities, practising green and healthy lifestyles, encouraging respect and tolerance through music and culture. The United Nations celebrates and supports all these efforts. I urge young people everywhere to look beyond the borders of your own country. Engage with the world, and be a global citizen."

To learn more about the Youth Initiative, please go to:

Go to UNODC Youth Initiative Facebook Page

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