24 June 2011 - Every year, an estimated 210 million people use illicit drugs; of that number, almost 200,000 die as a consequence. Yet, despite the challenges posed by drugs, the impact can be mitigated. This year's International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (26 June) highlights the role that communities can play in addressing the drug challenge. "Prevention starts with a community that cares about the vulnerable and it involves families, teachers, youth leaders and mentors, among others. We must start to think globally and act locally to curb drug use and drug trafficking", said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.
In addressing drug abuse prevention, treatment and care, UNODC, together with leading civil society organizations, promotes approaches that empower and support community-based strategies and by doing so put people at the centre of the response.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to addressing the drug challenge. Each community has a unique set of problems and circumstances. That is why tailored actions developed with the participation of all sectors of society concerned - from families and 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.
"Governments have a responsibility to counteract both drug trafficking and drug abuse, but communities can also make a major contribution," said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. "Families, schools, civil society and religious organizations can do their part to rid their communities of drugs. Businesses can help provide legitimate livelihoods. The media can raise awareness about the dangers of narcotics."
By approaching the drug issue from an inclusive and participatory perspective, moreover, community-based interventions also ensure that every sector of society feels ownership and responsibility to do their part in addressing the 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", added Mr. Fedotov.
UNODC leads the World Drug Campaign to raise awareness about the major challenge that illicit drugs pose to society as a whole and especially to young people. Using the slogan "Global Action for Healthy Communities without Drugs", this year's campaign aims to mobilize support and inspire people to act against drug abuse.