INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST DRUG ABUSE AND ILLICIT TRAFFICKING
Ranjan K Baruah
(With direct inputs from UN publication and feedback may be
sent to firstname.lastname@example.org)
One of the common issues among young people around the world is substance abuse or more precisely using drugs. We could see and read news related to drugs every day, which means the issue is really affecting society. We can see that drug users are mostly young people and there might be different reasons for it. There are certain times like transition to adulthood where one is more influenced by peers than others and this is the critical time for any young person because if the right care is not taken then it might lead to a negative lifestyle. This age range is also characterized by experimenting with new ideas, lifestyles, and making choices that are not always established to be right. These experimentations many times lead to uncertain outcomes which lead some youths to start using drugs, tobacco, and alcohol as a means of escaping those situations.
The trade-in drugs were already recognized as a global problem requiring a global solution at the beginning of the 20th century, with the first international conference on narcotic drugs held in Shanghai in 1909. Over the following decades, a multilateral system to control production, trafficking and abuse of drugs was developed. Three drug control conventions were adopted under the auspices of the United Nations (in 1961, 1971 and 1988).
We know that any substance abuse has many negative physiological and psychological health effects. Around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the last year, while over 36 million people suffered from drug use disorders, according to the 2021 World Drug Report (WDR) which has been released recently by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). WDR provides a global overview of the supply and demand of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances (NPS), as well as their impact on health. It highlights, through improved research and more precise data, that the adverse health consequences of drug use are more widespread than previously thought.
The Report further noted that in the last 24 years cannabis potency had increased by as much as four times in parts of the world, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by as much as 40 per cent, despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health and other harms, especially among regular long-term users.
According to WDR, the percentage of ?9-THC - the main psychoactive component in cannabis - has risen from around six per cent to more than 11 per cent in Europe between 2002-2019, and around four per cent to 16 per cent in the United States from 1995-2019, while the percentage of adolescents that perceived cannabis as harmful declined by 40 per cent in the United States and by 25 per cent in Europe. Moreover, most countries have reported a rise in the use of cannabis during the pandemic.
From 2010-2019 the number of people using drugs increased by 22 per cent, owing in part to global population growth. According to the latest global estimates, about 5.5 per cent of the population aged between 15 and 64 years have used drugs at least once in the past year, while 36.3 million people, or 13 per cent of the total number of persons who use drugs, suffer from drug use disorders. Globally, over 11 million people are estimated to inject drugs, half of whom are living with Hepatitis C.
By resolution 42/112 of 7 December 1987, the General Assembly decided to observe 26th June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The theme of this year's International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is "Share facts on drugs. Save lives", emphasizing the importance of strengthening the evidence base and raising public awareness, so that the international community, governments, civil society, families and youth can make informed decisions, better target efforts to prevent and treat drug use, and tackle world drug challenges. The campaign highlights key statistics and data drawn from UNODC's yearly WDR.
Secretary-General of the United Nations in his message said that "the world drug problem remains an urgent challenge that threatens to exacerbate pandemic impacts and hinder a healthy and inclusive recovery. Drug trafficking and organized crime fuel and perpetuate cycles of violence and conflict. Armed groups and terrorist profit from the illicit drug trade and the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has left millions of people even more vulnerable to drug crime and illicit crop cultivation." "Investing in balanced prevention as well as control of drug use and drug use disorders produces solid returns - saved lives, healthier populations, improved workforce participation and productivity, and reduced criminal justice costs," he added.
To make the world free from drugs should be the aim of each and everyone who wants a sustainable future. There must be a partnership with government departments and other civil society organizations including health workers and even counsellors to make the world free from drugs. The day gives us an opportunity to talk about it and also spread awareness amongst people. Together we can make the world free from drugs for which we need a collective effort. Let us pledge to make our society free from drugs and contribute towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals.