Putting health at the centre of drug control

16 December 2008 - At the opening of a seminar on drug addiction prevention and treatment today, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa urged countries to "put health back at the centre of drug control."

Mr. Costa was joined by Dr Nora Volkov, Director of the USA National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA). Dr Volkov presented the latest scientific evidence showing how drug addiction is a disease of the brain that can and should be treated as any other health problem. She also addressed the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors that lead to drug addiction, and how drug use can and should be prevented effectively.

The seminar, "Drug Addiction Prevention and Treatment: From Research to Practice", brings together 30 leading researchers to present and discuss the most recent scientific evidence and its implications for policy and practice. The seminar is the first of its kind for UNODC. Some 200 participants from governments and non-governmental organisations of high, middle and low income countries as well as relevant international organizations are participating in the proceedings. This indicates a strong interest in the results of state-of-the-art scientific research and will boost UNODC's efforts to promote evidence-based interventions.

UNODC and the World Health Organization (WHO) are developing a joint action programme on drug dependence which will be announced during the seminar. The formal launch will take place at the Commission of Narcotic Drugs in March 2009. The joint programme  will support activities at the global, regional and national level to ensure that people suffering from drug dependence worldwide are reached by affordable drug treatment and care services that are evidence-based and respectful of patients' human rights.

UNODC will also continue to support governments and civil society to work in schools, families and workplaces to prevent drug use and ensure the healthy and safe development of young people globally.


For more information, please visit our websites or contact us:

Drug prevention:  www.unodc.org/youthnet - youthnet@unodc.org

Drug treatment and care:  www.unodc.org/treatnet - treatnet@unodc.org