The Paris Pact Initiative: Investing in Families for Effective Drug Prevention and Treatment

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Vienna (Austria), 23 December 2020 — An effective, comprehensive, and evidence-based approach to the prevention and treatment of persons with drug and other substance use disorders —in line with the UNODC-WHO International Standards of Drug Use Prevention (2018) and the International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders (2020)— is vital for the wellbeing of millions of people worldwide.

This is especially true in low- and middle- income countries, where interventions that address vulnerabilities at different ages of development have proven successful.  A holistic response and sustained treatment and care are also key. The latter includes recovery programmes and psychosocial care. 

The family structure represents the backbone of many communities; and is often the key resource for emotional, physical, and social welfare. Therefore, when it comes to prevention measures and providing treatment for adolescents with drugs and other substance use disorders, it is important to involve family networks. Family-based interventions are crucial for creating societies resilient to drugs and crime.

UNODC has fully supported this approach for over a decade, working on promoting family skills interventions in over 30 countries worldwide. Working on family skills has proven effective for establishing effective communication, positive bonding, as well as age-appropriate monitoring and discipline, while preventing negative social and health consequences.

Further to the prevention efforts, the family context has also been integrated in the therapeutic assistance and interventions targeting youth with substance use problems.

Recently, the Paris Pact Expert Working Group Meeting in support of the Pillar IV of the Vienna Declaration took place in Vienna on 15-16 December 2020 to address the theme of "Investing in Families for Effective Drug Prevention and Treatment. Particular attention was given to the contribution of science-focused initiatives that support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and their added value in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event was conducted in a hybrid format, bringing together 145 delegates from Member States, international and regional organisations — including prominent experts responsible for planning and implementing drug demand reduction policies.

The meeting comprised interactive sessions and discussions on drug prevention and treatment services with a family-centred approach, and took stock of the relevant Paris Pact expert recommendations under Pillar IV of the Vienna Declaration.

The outcome from the meeting were 11 specific recommendations, which will be further reviewed and endorsed at the next Paris Pact Policy Consultative Group Meeting to be convened in 2021.

The Paris Pact Initiative is an important international framework, providing a unique platform for genuine partnership between Member States, competent international organizations and other relevant stakeholders in the fight against opiates.