Some of the Prominent Guests speeches at World Forum Against Drugs in Stockholm 8-10th of September 2008.
Monday 8th of September, Opening Session
Mr Båb Bergvall, President of the WFAD Organizing Committee – Opening remarks
Your Majesty, Members of Royal Families and Ministers, Honorary Ambassadors and Guests, Prominent Speakers and Moderators, Distinguished Delegates
Welcome to Stockholm and the first World Forum Against Drugs. My name is Båb Bergvall, and I am president of the Organizing Committee.
Some years ago eleven Swedish organizations, all working to reduce drug abuse and stop drug trafficking, decided to jump off a cliff. We started to plan for the first World Forum Against Drugs ever.
One of our major goals was to reach out to non-governmental organizations on all continents and invite their members to a world conference where they could share experiences and talk about a vision of a drug free world.
Today we are more than 600 participants at this opening session, from more than 80 countries – an outcome much better than we ever hoped for.
This is of course a result of hard work, but we could never have done it without strong support and generous contributions from the Swedish government, the City Council of Stockholm, public authorities as well as numerous non-governmental organizations. We also thank the 20 Swedish private companies who decided to stand behind us and who as sponsors so generously support the conference.
We will now have three days together to listen to speeches, attend major sessions, take part in workshops and do a lot of networking in between. All of that will be very exciting for me and my fellow organizers. I am sure it will be equally exiting and interesting for all of you too.
Once again, welcome to Stockholm and the first World Forum Against Drugs!
Now it is my privilege to introduce our moderator for this opening session – a truly respected politician and former speaker in the Swedish Parliament, Mrs. Birgitta Dahl
H.M. Queen Silvias speech at World Forum Against Drugs,
Ladies and gentlemen….
I am so very pleased to see and welcome delegates from so many countries at this important conference. Unfortunately, drug abuse has become a global problem. In the past we could talk about producer countries and consumer countries. But the situation has changed. Now we have a universal problem and a challenge which demands joint solutions. All countries and all people must work together to find these solutions. Young people have become particularly vulnerable to drug abuse. We must try and protect young people from exposure to narcotics. And of course to prevent them from drug addiction. When young people become involved with drugs, it leads all too often to suffering-not only for the addicts but also for their relatives and friends. It is our highest priority to work together, all of us, to prevent drug abuse and the harm that drugs can and do cause.
This is why I, myself became involved with Mentor Sweden and I am proud to be one of the co-founders and president of Mentor International. Mentors mission is to prevent drug abuse among children and young people and to promote their health and well-being. One way Mentor works to prevent drug abuse among young people, is by giving them the self-confidence and the strength, skills and abilities to say no to drugs. Parents are also an important group for Mentor. It is vital for parents to support their teenagers and to make sure that they have education and support to help in communicating and relating with their children.
This is an important conference – a forum – an exchange of knowledge and views in the campaign against narcotics. I am delighted to see how many we are, who are determined to work for prevention and against the global problem of drug addiction. The gathering is an important opportunity to learn from each other. We need to work together and offer a team approach in our responses.
We can prevent. We can provide positive opportunities for young people.
We can protect our young people from drugs. We are offering a message of hope and health for our young people.
Thank you and all good wishes for a successful forum!
Mrs Maria Larsson, Minister for Public Health, Sweden – Speech at the opening session of the World Forum Against Drugs
Your Majesty, visiting dignitaries, ladies and gentlemen.
It is with great pleasure that I take part in this opening of the first World Forum Against Drugs, and I suppose it is the first time in Sweden for many of you – so heartily welcome to Sweden.
I am very proud that this forum takes place here in Sweden, and I can only thank the many active, local NGOs for their tireless work as organizers.
There are participants from more than 80 countries and from different professions and organizations. This mix of people and experiences will help to make this conference useful and successful.
Sweden has for a very long time been active in the field of prevention and, If I may say so, we have had some successes along the way but we have also learnt that this work needs to be an ongoing priority for society. Consequently, Sweden has invested heavily in addressing the drug problem. We have among the highest proportion of drug related expenditures in the European Union.
This conference puts a lot of emphasis on the voluntary or NGO sector. Rightly so. In many instances, NGOs and volunteers play a crucial role in the work against drugs. NGOs are extremely good at detecting new social problems which the government agencies can be unaware of. NGOs are vey good in meeting specific needs which are crucial for a person to be able to overcome the problems associated with poverty and exclusion.
Therefore we must work together in prevention, in care and treatment, and in the very important rehabilitation.
Here in Sweden we are fortunate to have a number of active NGOs. The government’s primary role is to make policy decisions, to draw up overall strategies – after listening to the NGOs – and to give the appropriate support. But we also need support from the general public.
In my country we have today a political consensus and a broad public support for our comprehensive and restrictive drug policy. This drug policy is based on the UN conventions. It aims to reduce both the supply and the demand of narcotics. More specifically, the policy focuses on prevention, treatment and control – three equally strong pillars.
The vision is a drug free society.
Our view is that some measures of harm reduction are a complement to other policies and efforts. Therefore, during your visit here, you will see that Sweden accepts measures aimed at limiting the adverse consequences of drug abuse. But they can never be the only policy option. They are elements in a comprehensive care system, and they don´t change the fact that illicit drugs cannot be accepted, and that the respect for human dignity demands a strong commitment to combat drug abuse. To reduce the demand for drugs and to tackle the negative social and health consequences are complementary efforts.
Ten years have now passed since the world community came together to plan for the work against drugs. The plans were both comprehensive and far-reaching, but maybe we have not always been successful in implementing them. The resolution which will be adopted here at this conference is part of a global UNGASS review process.
Sweden has always been a staunch supporter of the UN conventions on drugs and of international collaboration in general. In our view, illegal drugs are connected with poverty, with hiv/AIDS, with corruption and criminality.
Illegal drugs constitute a threat to security and to a democratic development in the world. The approach, consequently, requires close international collaboration, and e.g. also using development assistance to combat drugs.
I am happy to reiterate Sweden’s active support for a continuous central role for the UN conventions. The strong commitment from your side to show that there is public support for the conventions will further uphold respect for them.
Sweden has a low level of drug use or experimental drug use among young people. We have made surveys among school kids, about their drug use, since 1971. It is a unique material, and we make good use of it. The agency that coordinates the gathering and presentation of these surveys are also involved in the European ESPAD surveys. They are just about to begin the coordination of a new all European survey that will now include 44 countries.
Nationally, the Swedish government has adopted an action plan on drugs for the coming years. Among the priorities are young people, and one way to support them is by supporting their parents in their parenting efforts. Another priority is to follow the introduction and evolvement of new drugs. The Internet is a newly opened shop to market and sell new drugs. It is open 24 hours and always reachable wherever you are. What used to be only a place for drug liberal views is now a place to get hold of new, dangerous drugs.
Different kinds of designer or synthetic drugs are sold over the Internet, and just recently my government classified Fenazepam and prohibited this dangerous drug. In these cases we have to step in actively with efforts to protect children and young people, and we have to do it quickly once a new drug is detected.
It is extremely important for NGOs and government bodies to learn to monitor the Internet closely and to learn about the new drugs which are sold there. Let me therefore say that this conference is a perfect place to gather new knowledge and to share experiences.
Probably you have, just as I have, watched the Olympic Games. New world records, or Olympic records, or world records, were set. Athletes improve their performance and get better – this is the basic idea about sports. But I also know that we can improve our performance – our work against drugs. We can get better in what we do. Let me therefore declare the World Games Against Drugs inaugurated. I welcome you to improve your performance and maybe even to compete in how to best tackle the illegal drug situation.
Thank you. And now – let the Games begin!
M.R. Disnadda Diskul, Secretary General, Mae Fah Luang Foundation, Thailand – 100 Years of Drug Prevention – how do we move forward?
Your Majesty, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I am so pleased to see everyone here, 100 years after the Shanghai Conference, and the launch of a century of drug prevention. Today´s event is an important milestone in our fight against the world drug problem. Despite the demise of the Golden Triangle nearly 20 years ago and the success of demand reduction programs in many countries, the fight against narcotic drugs is still an urgent cause.
Drug dependence cripples the labour force; it diverts funds from the economy to the arms trade and terrorism, increasing instability in the world. Absolute numbers of cannabis, cocaine and opiate users have increased. Previous gains in containing the demand for drugs are in danger of being lost.
This comes at a time when we face the overwhelming challenges of a global food crisis and climate change. Exploding world population is forcing us to invade forest to make way for bloating cities. We encroach on arable land to feed more people, all while exhausting our supply of fossil fuels. Environmental degradation, food shortages, and rising fuel prices – these are the results of our own doing. For decades we have been consuming more than we give back, and nature will soon run out.
It is funny how we say that we are all affected by these changes and yet little efforts are put forth in addressing them. If we are suffering, imagine the lives of those who are less fortunate than us. I say that it is the poorest of the poor who suffer the most.
And the people contributed to our global problems the least. With commodity prices rising daily, and food supply dwindling, these people do not have a lot of choices. Faced with mouths to feed, poor land, no infrastructure – that´s why they have to get involved in narcotics. They have no choice. Narcotic crops are bought right at the farm gates, and they provide a way to soothe the desperation of their situation.
For these people, drugs will be a bigger issue than ever before, in terms of production and addiction. As long as we leave poor people vulnerable, they will grow narcotic crops. We must address the supply of drugs by giving everyone everywhere licit, sustainable, alternative livelihoods.
It begins and ends here, with poverty; by breaking the vicious cycle of sickness, poverty and ignorance, we can begin the process of lifting people out of their survival world so that they can be masters of their own destiny, and agents of their own future. These are the people who need help; this is who I work with. I am a DOER, working on the ground.
Allow me to tell you a little about our work. Established by the late Mother of His Majesty King Bhumibhol of Thailand over 20 years ago, the Mae Fah Luang Foundation is a ”practitioner” of Sustainable Alternative Livelihood development, or SALD. SALD is ”people-centric” – designed to help people help themselves.
Our primary activities take place in the heart of the infamous Golden Triangle. In the past, ethnic hill minorities used to grow opium because it was their SINGULAR means of survival. We worked to improve health, create employment and provide access to formal education for the roughly 11,000 people at Doi Tung – ex-growers, traffickers and recovering addicts alike.
Today, the people of Doi Tung have choices. A choice to work on the project’s macadamia economic forests, or in coffee-roasting plants. They have the choice to work at our tourist destinations, guest houses, and gardens. They can tell their story to customers at Doi Tung cafes and Lifestyle shops scattered throughout the country. Daughters who had been sold to work in the sex industry now work in tissue culture facilities in the horticulture industry, and in sales, and many other alternatives. Grandmothers can choose to work in the handicraft center alongside their children, creating a world-class fashion line. Ex-addicts reforested hillsides denuded from slash and burn cultivation. Ex-opium have learnt landscape design. These local people have made Doi Tung a signature Thai brand. Opium is all but a thing of the past. Most of all, the people have regained pride and dignity, which money cannot buy. They dare to dream of a brighter future for their children.
In recent years Thailand has extended SALD assistance to Myanmar, Afghanistan and Indonesia, sharing best practices and lessons learned in our fight against drugs.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to the drug problem, but DOERS must find ways to work together, contributing in more ways than any government whose financial resources are bound by red tape, whose technical assistance is clouded by political motives.
Forums like this one matter. People like you matter. We can´t just come here and talk for the sake of talking. We must act. We must build on this opportunity to trade best practices and learn from each other in order to improve the lives of future generations, because all countries, communities, and companies, no matter how large or small, developed or not, rich or poor – we are all affected by the drug problem.
If more people are ready to take up this cause, we will leave here knowing that we have provided a better world for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Thank you for your kind attention.
Robert L. DuPont, M.D. President Institute for Behavior and Health, Inc. Rockville, Maryland USA – The Battle over the Future of Drug Abuse Prevention
Speaking with you is a joyful culmination of my four decades of work to prevent drug abuse.
It is an honor to be here at this historic International meeting with more than 450 delegates from over 80 nations under the leadership of our distinguished Swedish hosts. It is no accident that this meeting is in Sweden. The Swedish experience with drug abuse defines the problems we face and the choices we must make.
Lets begin by reviewing that experience. After the second world war Sweden faced an unprecedented epidemic of intravenous amphetamine abuse. Once the epidemic had taken hold in Stockholm and other Swedish cities the initial response was what today is called harm reduction.“ The government authorized the medical supply of amphetamines to help addicts wean“ themselves from their vicious drug habits and to prevent their resorting to crime to buy drugs. Over the next two years the results of this approach were clear. The officially supplied drugs were used by an ever widening circle of drug users. Worse yet, those who were addicted did not stop their drug use. This observation was the defining moment in the evolution of Swedish drug policy. The country, noted in the world community for its compassion and reasoned public policy, reversed course adopting a zero tolerance approach. Sweden rejected medically supplied amphetamines and opiates for drug abusers. With that change the epidemic abated.
Two aspects of this experience deserve special attention. First, prohibition“ followed harm reduction“ not the other way around. People who today claim that harm reduction“ – and by that label I mean policies that make it cheaper, easier and safer to use illegal drugs – misunderstand not only the Swedish experience with drugs but the worlds ongoing experience with drugs. Prohibition was caused by the terrible problems that arose when there was a rich availability of drugs and when there was a tolerance for drug use. It was the explosive increase in drug use that led to prohibition and not prohibition that led to an increase in illegal drug use.
Second, Sweden learned from this experience in drug policy because a consultant to the Stockholm police, Professor Nils Bejerot, personally interviewed many of these amphetamine addicts and followed them through their history of drug use. He saw that drug abuse spread like an infectious disease from drug user to drug user. He observed that the two major determinants of drug use were drug availability and the individual susceptibility to use. Especially vulnerable to drug use were risk-takers, most of whom were young. He noted that the well-meaning efforts to wean“ the addicts off drugs by giving them easier access to drugs were not only futile but that the medically-supplied drugs added fuel to the drug epidemic. Dr. Bejerot is the hero of the Swedish drug abuse story. It is to his memory that I dedicate my talk today.
Drug addiction has been called cunning, baffling and powerful“ and it certainly is, for reasons I will describe shortly. But at the outset I want to emphasize that the decision to curtail medically-supplied drugs to drug addicts was difficult in Sweden precisely because there was a powerful impulse to help“ the drug addicts who clearly were hooked“ on drugs. It was only when this effort to help by giving them drugs was shown to be making their lives worse and to be spreading drug use in the larger community that the Swedish health officials reversed course. The drug user is at the center of this new Swedish approach to drug prevention. Demand reduction,“ to be effective, decreases the social tolerance for illegal drug use. Much of the rest of the world, especially in the developed nations with well-functioning welfare states, struggles with this approach since their national identify is defined as supporting tolerance to lifestyle choices of almost all individuals, even when those lifestyle choices are unpopular.
To understand why drug use is not an ordinary lifestyle choice, and therefore requires a different response, it is necessary to learn from modern biology, which has only in the last decade begun to understand the brain mechanisms that cause drug addiction. Drugs of abuse are uniquely powerful stimulants of the brains reward centers. These brain reward centers function in all mammals, including humans. They give the powerful signal do it more.“
The natural stimulants of this brain reward mechanism include food and sex, the behaviors most obviously linked to the perpetuation of all species. Some observers of this biology have minimized drug using behavior by noting the addictive“ potential of such commonplace pleasure-producing behaviors as eating chocolate and sex. What this comparison misses is easily seen in animal experiments. Drugs of abuse produce brain reward that is far more powerful than any natural stimulation. For example, when rats are forced to walk across an electrified grid (which they hate) to get a reward they die from starvation or thirst, and abstain from sex, rather than walk across the grid. However once the rats have learned to use drugs they will walk across that grid to get drugs as if there were no shock.
The special power of drug reward is easily seen in the behavior of human drug addicts. A friend of mine who is dedicated to the civil liberties struggle in the United States said to me that to explain this to people who share her passion to civil rights I needed to explain that drug addiction is modern, chemical slavery. Drug addiction is not a life style choice. Let me repeat: drug addiction is slavery.
Why has the modern drug epidemic occurred in recent decades? Several factors have not only changed the drug scene, they have created an entirely new reality. The first factor is the change of values as the world has shifted to tolerate, even to promote, individual choices over behaviors that in previous generations were limited by deeply held, collective values. This new tolerance for diversity, including a tolerance for drug using behaviors, has been exploited by drug sellers creating the second factor in the emergence of the modern drug abuse epidemic: an increasingly globalized, and far more efficient, modern drug supply system. The modern drug epidemic is caused by the synergistic combination of increased social and psychological tolerance for drug use and increased supply of drugs. This change has been accentuated by a third factor: drugs are now often used by far more potent routes of administration, especially smoking and intravenous injection. The fourth factor creating the modern drug epidemic is the huge range of abused drugs now available throughout the world. In sum the modern drug epidemic is the result of the greater availability of a wide range of drugs, the common use of potent routes of administration, increased social tolerance for drug use and the fact that entire national populations, especially youth populations, are now routinely exposed to abusable drugs. While many drugs have been around for centuries, even millennia, todays drug abuse epidemic is as modern as the computer.
The most important questions facing us at our meeting this week are these:
1) What is the core of the drug problem?
2) What can be done to reduce it?
The answer to the first question is that the heart of the drug problem is the drugs that are illegal under international conventions that are now nearly a century old. Because these drugs have been recognized as serious public health threats they have been prohibited for nonmedical use. When the definition of the problem“ is widened to include a range of behaviors from gambling to sex, and from sweets to credit cards, the drug problem has been trivialized and meaningful action has been derailed.
As a person who has devoted his professional life to promoting the public health, including holding some of the highest positions in my own governments public health efforts all the way to the White House, and based on what you have already heard from me this morning, I have three straight-forward suggestions for you to consider in answering the second question.
1) Reduce Drug Availability. One of the oddest aspects of the often misguided debates now occurring about drug policy is to pit law enforcement against treatment, as if the central policy question is Do you favor law enforcement or do you favor treatment.“ This is a tragically flawed framework. The simple answer is that neither law enforcement alone nor treatment alone is effective. The future of drug policy involves getting them to work together more effectively. One simple statistic makes this point: half of all of the people in drug abuse treatment in the U.S. are there because they have been forced into treatment by the criminal justice system. Taking law enforcement out of the drug abuse prevention equation would cut the treatment population in half. Drug supply, which is now global, flourishes in places that are outside the laws of modern nations. Drug profits are fueling terrorism and anarchy all over the world. Efforts to combat drug supply need to be global in scope and to enjoy robust support from all nations and all people.
2) Reduce the Social Tolerance for Illegal Drug Use. It is vitally important to respect drug users as people who are worthy of help and compassion, but not to respect their illegal drug use. The modern effort to normalize“ illegal drug use, including comparing it to alcohol and tobacco use, has the effect of decreasing the resistance of vulnerable people to drug use and of inhibiting the social forces rejecting illegal drug use. Treatment and prevention programs need to be based on the goal of total abstinence from the use of illegal drugs. Recent evidence from a wide range of populations – from criminals being supervised in the community to practicing physicians in treatment for substance abuse – is that zero tolerance for nonmedical drug use is essential for prevention and for recovery.
3) Harness The Powers of Faith and Community. It is no accident that religion is the enemy of drug abuse. The most striking aspect of the drug users character is the selfishness and self-centeredness that take over the lives of drug abusers. Belief in something that is more important than ones own immediate pleasure and a commitment to higher values are not necessarily religious, but they are powerfully anti-drug. Closely related, one of the most striking aspects of addicts behavior is dishonesty. In all parts of the world drug use, especially drug use by the drug addict, is seen as unhealthy, unsafe and unwise. The only way the drug abusers can keep using the drug is to hide their use from everyone who cares about them. So the antidote to addiction is honesty, especially honesty in the larger community in which the drug addict lives. The 12-step programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, which have become global fellowships of recovery, harness both Faith and Community in brilliant, creative and highly effective ways. These free, voluntary programs are the secret weapon“ in the public health war against drug and alcohol addiction.
I have been a practicing physician for more than four decades working every week with my own individual patients and their families, often over the course of many years. This experience has powerfully informed my views on public policy. Families typically begin their relationship to drug problems by denying the problem, pretending it is not there and hoping against hope that it will go away. The drug problem gets worse until the family is eventually forced to confront it. When they do they often begin on the assumption that they can love their way out of the problem by helping“ their drug addicts. This too, fails as drug-caused problems mount. Only when families realize that they must intervene to separate their family member from drugs of abuse in the most forceful and sustained ways, is there hope for recovery. Although treatment is often part of this stage, treatment is likely to work only if it is combined with a strong stand that absolutely rejects further drug use.
In thinking about my work with families who have successfully overcome addiction I have considered where in these families lists of responses to their drug problems are the common harm reduction approaches to drug abuse to be found. For example, where does giving addicts drugs or giving intravenous drug users clean“ needles fit into the successful familys strategy? Where does tolerance of continued nonmedical drug use fit into the highly personal family decision making process? Where does tolerance for relapse to drug use fit for these successful families?
My conclusion is simple and clear. I believe that this conclusion is similar to the experiences of all of you here today when you have confronted drug addiction in your lives, in your families and in your communities. When you tolerate drug use and when you make drug use cheaper, easier and safer for the drug user, the drug use continues and usually escalates. When you take a stand and say no more“ in ways that are credible and sustained, drug use is far more likely to end.
Why is this common experience so seldom applied to national and international drug policy? The only reason I can imagine is that most drug abuse policy discussions are political or ideological. They are not rooted in long-term experiences with real people. I am reminded of Professor Bejerot who carefully cataloged his personal experiences with individual drug addicts to come up with the profound truths he articulated so bravely even though his conclusions were sometimes misunderstood as unsympathetic or even harsh. Nothing could be further from the truth. The compassionate and respectful approach to drug addicts is to separate them from their drugs. To do otherwise is to disrespect them, to neglect their humanity and to perpetuate their chemical slavery.
How do our policy opponents justify their positions, given this every-day reality? There is one more fact I need to highlight which may explain this apparent paradox. Let me give you a factual statistic for perspective: each time a drunk driver gets behind the wheel of a car there is a one in 2,000 chance that that drunk driver will have an accident. That means that 1,999 times out of 2,000 when people are intoxicated they arrive safely at their destinations. Of course the risk of a sober driver having an accident is 100 times less but my point is that even with the dramatically elevated risk of an accident of a drunk driver, the odds of arriving at the destination without an accident are high. That is why it is so important that all nations have socially-imposed consequences to prevent dunk driving. It is not practical to learn from personal experience with those odds. Having worked with many drunk drivers, even when they cause accidents, many of them deny that their drinking had anything to do with the accident. In summary, drunk driving is widely recognized to be a serious problem even though in any single instance of drunk driving the odds are very large that the drunk driver will not have an accident or injure someone else or himself
Illegal drug use is like drunk driving in that many illegal drug users, especially early in their history of drug use, use drugs without obvious harm to themselves or others. Like the drunk driver in my example they conclude that their drug use is benign. Some drug users escape harm for many years just as some drunk drivers never have accidents.
When drug use is looked at in the community the universal finding is that illegal drug use is associated with virtually all negative outcomes, from accidents and school failures to mental illnesses and violence. Our drug abuse prevention policy opponents look only at the safe“ users of illegal drugs. Their policies protect these peoples civil liberties,“ the rights they have to their lifestyle choices. Why dont our drug policy opponents also work to protect the civil liberties of drunk drivers given the fact that many times when the drive drunk these drunk drivers do not cause accidents? They do not defend drunk drivers because they know that if they did that they would be hooted off the public policy stage. If alcohol manufacturers were to champion the rights of drunk drivers they would suffer the fate of cigarette manufactures who claimed cigarette smoking was not addictive.
Clear thinking is difficult when dealing with illegal drugs in part because we must overcome a determined opposition who focus on the safe“ illegal drug users. Our policy opponents begin by claiming that the war on drugs has failed.“ The facts are otherwise. In the United States illegal drug use is down substantially from 24 million users at the peak in 1978 to the current 19 million even though the US population has increased substantially in the past three decades. Worldwide the level of illegal drug use has stabilized in recent years. It lags far behind the use levels of either alcohol or tobacco. People who understand pharmacology know that the levels of use in the world of any of dozens of illegal drugs – from marijuana and cocaine to heroin and methamphetamine – would exceed the levels of use now seen for alcohol and tobacco if they were legalized or made more freely available because they produce far more intense brain reward than either alcohol or tobacco.
Harm reduction“ as a drug prevention policy sounds humane and compassionate. While many diverse policies fly under the harm reduction flag, the central tenant of this policy is the acceptance of the inevitability of increasing numbers of illegal drug users. Once the inevitability of rising illegal drug use is accepted, harm reduction seeks to make better drugs available cheaply and safely to drug users to prevent their turning to crime to support their habits and their acquiring diseases, like HIV-AIDS, as a result of their drug use. Harm reduction seeks to increase the social acceptance of illegal drug use. In drug abuse treatment, harm reduction accepts as inevitable continued drug use during treatment and it accepts relapse to drug use after treatment. However well-meaning, these policies increase illegal drug use and thereby they increase the harm that is caused by this drug use. Harm Reduction policies accept and even extend chemical slavery, as they did in Sweden in the 1960s.
My conclusion about what needs to be done to improve international drug policy is simple: DO NOT SURRENDER TO ILLEGAL DRUG USE. The rise in illegal drug use can be stopped throughout the world.
It is not an accident that the name of our meeting is the World Forum Against Drugs. That is the right name for our new global drug abuse prevention policy, a policy that is deeply rooted in, and validated by, the Swedish experience with its initial drug abuse epidemic half a century ago.
The modern illegal drug abuse epidemic is a major threat to our most precious resource: the worlds human capital. The most vulnerable people are youth and those with economic and other handicaps, including mental illness. Although drug abuse is a massive global threat, it is a threat that can be overcome.
At this meeting, and in our important work that is to follow, we must work together to achieve our shared goals to reduce drug availability, to reduce the social acceptance of illegal drug use, and to increase the use of Faith and Community in our efforts to combat this insidious, often misunderstood modern epidemic.
Here is a motto that I have found to be helpful:
You Alone Can Do It, But
You Cannot Do It Alone
Together We Can Do More
Mr Sten Nordin – Mayor’s welcome to Stockholm and the World Forum Against Drugs
Honourable ministers, Mrs Dahl, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen, participants of this important conference.
It’s truly an honour for me to welcome you all to Stockholm – The capital of Scandinavia. A city on water. Stockholm is built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges.57 sounds a lot, but I can assure you that we need to build more bridges and tunnels to get the growing city to work. In the archipelago we are surrounded by another 23 000 islands.
As the mayor of Stockholm it is a great honour for me to welcome you to my city, and I am proud that the 1st World Forum Against Drugs takes place in Stockholm.
We are going to talk about the serious problems connected to drug abuse across the national borders. Drug abuse is also a serious problem in Stockholm even if our problems are much less severe compared to many other cities. For example, in Stockholm about 10 percent of young people have tested narcotics. It is too many, but in another Nordic capital the number is 25-30 percent. In other parts of Europe there are cities where about 50 percent of young people have tested drugs
In order to protect young people, drug prevention is an area with high priority in Stockholm. The availability of various drugs has increased as well as the experimental use of different drugs. Adolescents and young adults are much more exposed and vulnerable to various drugs as a result of growing globalization and access to the Internet.
The Social Services in Stockholm have recently granted money to develop field work on the Internet, where young people, who are exposed to risk and receptive to substance abuse, are surveyed on the net.
In this way the Social Services in Stockholm are increasing their knowledge about where young people make contacts on the internet and can deal with problems that occur much earlier. It will also be possible for children and youths to ask questions about mental health and drug addiction and get answers on the net.
The City of Stockholm has an alcohol and drugs policy statement – Stockholm Tobacco, Alcohol and Narcotics Programme – the STAN programme. The purpose of the STAN programme is to help to make the City of Stockholm a good place to live and work in. The City of Stockholm is to be a place where children and young people can grow up in a good, health-promoting environment. In order to succeed with this, there must be wide consensus and collective responsibility among the various parties concerned in the City. And I am happy to say that we have a big consensus on these issues. It is very much due to the hard work from the many non-governmental organisations behind this conference.
The STAN programme consists of a comprehensive framework for joint development, stating the principles, goals and priorities which apply within the City as a whole concerning tobacco, alcohol and narcotics. The programme applies to all of the City’s boards and companies.
The STAN programme takes its ethical starting point in the intentions of the Social Services Act and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which stipulate the basic rights of children and young people to protection and support. The programme is based on national goals and current legislation. The aims and objectives of the programme are based on current research and on knowledge built in the City on what kind of prevention work has the best possible positive effect, and on what is known so far to give the best conditions for care and treatment.
The STAN programme has three main components: 1. Preventive measures, 2. Early measures and 3. Care and treatment. These three parts complement each other.
The City of Stockholm’s long-term goals concerning tobacco, alcohol and narcotics are among others:
– Childhood and adolescence must be free from tobacco, alcohol and narcotics.
– A narcotics-free Stockholm.
– The residents of Stockholm who abuse alcohol or other drugs shall be offered help in order to stop their abuse.
The long-term goals are made concrete in the following measurable intermediate goals:
– To postpone the age of the first alcohol intoxication.
– To reduce the number of children and young people who use tobacco.
– To reduce the number of children and young people who at some point try using narcotics.
– To reduce intoxication drinking by both adults and young people.
– To reduce the recruitment of new abusers.
– To induce more abusers to stop their substance abuse.
– To reduce the injurious medical and social effects of alcohol and narcotics.
One of the prioritised aims is that every other year, the Social Services Committee shall conduct regular inventories of school pupils’ drug habits and risk- and protection factors related to drug use. The inventories willbe done in the ninth year of the compulsory school and in the second year of the upper secondary school.
The latest inventory showed – I am sorry to say – that substance abuse has increased. More of the young people in Stockholm use drugs. I am also sorry to say that more young women use drugs, drink more alcohol and smoke tobacco, and the gap between women and men is closing in this area.
The first part in the STAN strategy is preventive measures. This means measures that can be taken before risk behaviour or injury has occurred. As a part of this broad strategy, the Social Services Administration of Stockholm has initiated the Prevention Center of Stockholm, Precens, which is a resource center for primary prevention of alcohol, drugs and crime.
The City of Stockholm is divided into 14 city districts, and Precens’s main task is to support professionals to improve their preventive and promotional local work against alcohol, drugs and crime.
Parents and family are the primary and most important arenas for prevention work. I myself have two teenagers at home and I know how important my role as a parent is when it comes to giving my children the right values – and not least important – learn my children to say the little but important word: no.
Therefore it is crucial to get parents involved in prevention work. To a great extent this can be done through the schools, but media measures and various types of parental training programmes are also important. In the budget 2009 the Social Division will be given more resources for this purpose.
The second part in the STAN programme is early measures. This means measures aimed at identifying and supporting persons in risk situations and/or persons displaying risk behaviour as early as possible.
The third part is Care and treatment – measures aimed at a manifested problem or injury at the level of the individual.
Few of the most serious substance abusers are completely unknown to the care services of the community. This I think says something about the relatively small number of heavy substance abusers we have in Stockholm, which is a good sign that indicates that the problem is not too serious compared with other cities. For this group of heavy abusers it is important to build up professional networks in order to give long-term support to the most vulnerable and to those who are hardest to motivate.
By taking the initiative of forming ”European cities against drugs” (ECAD), the City of Stockholm is participating actively in international narcotics politics. ECAD aims to unite major cities in a joint fight to stop the legalisation of narcotics. Stockholm is and will continue to be a strong voice in the fight against the use and legalisation of narcotics, ECAD is also one of the partners behind this important world conference, which I am happy to welcome here today to Stockholm.
Tuesday 9th of September, Plenary Session about Afganistan etc
HE General Khodaidad, Minister of Counternarcotics, Afghanistan – Can Afghanistan get rid of the opium problem?
Chairman, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. May I first of all start by thanking all the organizers for putting on this first ever World Forum Against Drugs under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Silvia.
This session is about whether Afghanistan can get rid of the opium problem and the short answer is of course ”YES”. But when – I do not know. What I want to share with you today is the successes we have had, and indeed some of the lessons learnt from the failures and perhaps how we, the Afghans, together with the international community can look forward as to how to solve this problem.
The main theme of this conference is 100 years of drug prevention’. I would like to remind this gathering that opium can be traced back as far as 3500 years B.C. so the production is in fact over five and a half thousand years old! Why has it become a problem?
In the 1500’s there are records of the Emperor Babur in what is now Kabul, taking maajun’ – a mixture of hashish, opium and other ingredients such as honey, dates, oil and spices. For centuries the opium poppy has been cultivated in parts of Afghanistan, for medical and recreational use. Throughout the world, opium was produced and even legally traded and indeed wars were fought over it as well.
It was only in 1827 that morphine was discovered as a product from opium and between 1874 and 1890 the heroin was first discovered.
What happened in Afghanistan?
In some parts of the country, opium use has been a very old tradition, both as a medicine and to give to young children to pacify or cure them. This was often in communities that were either poor or had little or no access to medical facilities or where the women worked as well as the men. There were also instances where it was used for social recreation.
All this started to change in the very late 1970s with a mixture of difference changes around the world. In the 1970s the West discovered’ heroin – on a wide scale, not now as a medicine but as a recreational’ substance that quickly had addictive properties that affected the taker and turned into drug abuse. There was now a lucrative but illegal demand.
At the same time Afghanistan was plunged into the beginning of three decades of war. During this time of troubles, poor farmers found that they had a small living they could make, criminal gangs found a new way of making money, corruption rose, external criminal organizations found that Afghanistan was a good place to grow poppy. And there was a market in the West that was ready to buy it.
Over the next thirty years, as pressure grew in our neighbouring countries to stop opium poppy growing, unfortunately Afghanistan increased increased its production until we have become the world´s largest supplier of opium. Not something we are proud of but behind this headline lay a number of successes.
All of these factors concentrated the increased cultivation in Afghanistan. However, the continuing expansion of narcotics industry represents the greatest threat to Afghanistan’s stability, especially since the narcotics trade is strongly linked to insecurity and terrorist activities. As His Excellency President Hamid Karzai has said – ”If we don’t destroy poppy, poppy will destroy Afghanistan”. The Taliban and the narcotics traffickers share the same objectives in maintaining a state of insecurity and undermining governance and the rule of law. In some cases they are one and the same.
In the immediate aftermath of the Taliban’s fall, efforts began to deal with the threat of the opium economy’. United Nations Security Council resolution 1378 of 14 November 2001 noted that the new government ”should respect Afghanistan’s international obligations, including cooperating fully in international efforts to combat terrorism and illicit drug trafficking”. This resolution was reflected in the Bonn Agreement of 5 December 2001, which requested the interim Authority and the Loya Jirga to ”cooperate with the international community in the fight against drugs and organized crime”. Moreover, the conclusions of the International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan, Tokyo 21 January 2002, recognized the vital importance of counter narcotics issues to the success of reconstruction. Finally, The Afghanistan Compact also recognized the importance of this fight in the implementation of Afghanistan National Development strategy.
During 2002-2008, HE President Hamid Karzai has issued a number of decrees banning cultivation, production, drug abuse, trafficking of narcotic drugs and rewarding communities who respect the central government’s policies. Various Ulema councils have issued fatwas which declared poppy cultivation contrary to Islamic sharia. Similarly, the Constitution of Afghanistan ranked opium cultivation, trafficking and consumption on par with terrorist activities as threats. Article 7 of the Constitution states; ”The State prevents all types of terrorist activities, cultivation and smuggling of narcotic drugs and production and consumption of intoxicants.”
In 2006, 28 provinces of Afghanistan were cultivating poppy, only six out of 34 provinces remained poppy free. The government decided to focus its efforts on increasing the number of poppy free provinces with the intention to suppress poppy cultivation in the south where most of the Afghan poppy is cultivated. Now three years after, 18 provinces out of 34 are poppy free. This shows a remarkable progress. This Year we have also seen a decrease of nearly 20% in cultivation of opium poppy and 6% decrease in production.
Now, almost all of the cultivation takes place exclusively in a small number of provinces, those most affected by insurgency in the southern part of the country.
During the past three years the Afghan government with the support of the international community has been able to reduce cultivation in some of Afghanistan’s traditional opium cultivating provinces. These are Nangarhar and Badakhshan.
The success lies much on traditional methods and tactics. We have been working very closely with community leaders, local shuras, religious scholars, parliamentarians and governors. Our policy has been prevention and thus we have delivered counter narcotics messages through a nationwide pre-planting campaign. The communities, local administration, mullahs, central government officials and the international community representatives have actively participated in this nationwide campaign.
Prevention compared to eradication is an effective measure. Once the farmers decide not to cultivate poppy in their fields early in the season, they have other options to cultivate but eradication would force them to hunger and poverty as we will have to wait until the next cultivation season.
All in all, good governance, rule of law, security and self restraint are the important indicators in this fight. Pre-planting campaign and public awareness are the most effective tools in preventing communities from poppy cultivation.
The history shows that the cultivation trend has been up and down in the course of the years. Now, the challenge ahead of us this year is to sustain poppy free provinces and further reduce cultivation in the coming years. We have now laid the foundation of a strategic fight against drugs in Afghanistan. The progress this year shows that the National Drugs Control Strategy that was launched during the London conference on Afghanistan in early 2006 is working.
We must ensure that provinces like Nangarhar and Badakhshan do not cultivate poppy again. Farmers and laborers are expecting assistance. This year Afghanistan faced drought and high food prices which threatens a possible relapse next season if enough support is not delivered to the target communities.
In 2007, the government, supported by the international community – in particular the US and the UK – launched a new program of rewarding communities under the name of Good Performance Initiative of GPI. This program is an effective tool to encourage communities not to grow poppy. Currently the program covers 17 provinces with a total funding of 23 million dollars. This year the funding will increase to more than 45 million dollars.
We have recently developed and presented to the international community a new provincial-based planning approach for the effective implementation of National Drugs Control strategy. This major policy shift was required because for the past 4 or 5 years both the international community and the Afghan government have been arguing on what are counter narcotics related projects and what are not. Different terminologies were used – alternative livelihoods, legal livelihoods and alternative development – with no effective results on the ground.
Thus the government decided to come up with provincial counter narcotics focused plans that will present a comprehensive approach to development assistance as well as special counter narcotics activities related to drug demand reduction, law enforcement and criminal justice.
In years ahead we will focus our activities on the following major areas:
Year round pre-planting and public awareness campaigns
Using local councils, community elders, parliament members and social gatherings
Advocating good governance by punishing corrupt officials and rewarding loyal and clean officials
Rewarding communities by funding their priority projects through the Good Performance Initiative
Increasing pressure on traffickers and drug smugglers and their supporters by interdicting their convoys, destroying heroin processing labs and opium open bazaars.
Implementation of provincial counter narcotics planning process
Treating drug addiction and raising awareness among the communities on its harms by increasing the number of treatment and counseling centers in the country
Targeted manual eradication where legal livelihoods exists.
We will need more support and backing from our international partners to sustain the progress and achieve further successes in the coming years.
At the end I would like to thank once again the organizers of this important forum and I pray for a world free of drugs and terrorism.
Thank you for your attention.
Presentation by Mrs Christina Oguz, UNODC Representative in Kabul
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Looking back on a century of drug control, as well as on the UNGASS decade, we can draw several conclusions. First and foremost, that we may have entered a period during which the number whose life is ruined by drugs has stabilized – whether we speak of farmers living on illegal crops, common citizens victimized by criminal gangs, or addicts wasting away.
This is what we call containment of the world drug problem. But, of course, containing the problem is not enough. We need to start reducing the number of people hurt by drugs, and to accomplish this we need to return to the basic principles of drug control, and base our work on evidence, not on ideology.
Before expanding on this point, let me place the containment question in context. The 2008 World Drug Report confirms that the world drug problem – a tragedy that in the second half of last century had grown at a fast clip, especially in rich countries – has stabilized since the beginning of this decade.
It has stabilized whether we talk about production or about addiction, or anything in between (trafficking, seizures, prices, purity etc.). Around the world, one person out of twenty (age 15-64) has used drugs at least occasionally in the past 12 months, while some 26 million people (namely about 0,5%) face severe drug dependence.
26 million people is of course an enormous number. Yet, it is a fraction of the number of addicts to the freely available psychoactive substances, like tobacco and alcohol. And the body count is also quite different. While drugs kill 200.000 people a year, alcohol kills about 2,5 million people, and tobacco close to 5 million. This leads me to a conclusion.
The conclusion is that, in the absence of the drug control system, illicit drug use may well have had similar devastating consequences for public health as tobacco and alcohol. The perplexity is about the stance adopted by some people who favour curbing tobacco and alcohol use, and yet maintain an equivocal stance about drugs – or even advocate liberalization of their use.
Success in drug control is even more impressive when we take a longer term perspective. Compared to a century ago, global opium production is 70% lower, even though the global population quadrupled over the same period. Drug addiction rates are equally much lower than they were before the first drug control conference (Shanghai 1909).
We at UNODC remain convinced that when governments show commitment, as they have pledged to do under the UNGASS resolution, positive results follow. When, and where, we see slippages – and we do both in supply and demand for drugs – it is not because the UN drug conventions are inadequate, but rather because they are inadequately and unevenly applied by governments.
We are here today to look beyond 2008, not back to 1909 (the beginning of drug control) or 1998 (the beginning of UNGASS). If in the years to come we are to consolidate and build on the progress that has already been made, we must go back to the Conventions and balance drug control policies more effectively than thus far.
Oddly, while statistics speak loud and clear, popular perception is often that drug control isn´t working: there is too much crime, and too much drug money laundered around the world; too many people in prisons, and too few in health care; too much money spent on public security, and not enough on public health; too much eradication of drug crops, and not enough eradication of poverty.
At a more technical level, we have noted further uncomfortable facts: for example, geographic displacement (tighter controls in one region, or on one product, have produces a swelling of activity elsewhere). There has also been substance displacement, for example, when the use of one drug has weakened on the market, suppliers and users move on to another substance (from heroin to cocaine, or from drugs to alcohol).
As a result, whilde drug markets have stabilized, we have not yet achieved the fundamental objective of the Conventions, namely restricting the use of controlled substances to medical purposes. So, while we can look beyond 2008 in the knowledge that drug control is working, we should be honest enough to recognize that the situation is precarious, and brave enough to change our mindset and shift priorities.
This includes moving away from simplistic debates about legalization versus prohibition – a world of free drugs as opposed to a drug free world. Moving beyond containment above all requires pursuing policies based on evidence rather than ideology, and return to the first principle of drug control – the protection of health.
The 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs was inspired by the need to safeguard the health of people. Over the past few decades, security has taken the lion’s share of resources, at the xpense of drug prevention and treatment. This is understandable – states need to regain control over unstable regions that are the source of drugs and fight their lethal trade.
While this is necessary, it is not sufficient. Similar attention and resources should be paid to lowering demand for drugs, and treating those who are dependent.
Today this is not happening. In most countries, health – the first principle of drug control – has become the last area to receive funding. As a result, well-intentioned but underfunded NGOs are left to pick up the slack.
This cannot be right. Drug dependence is an illness and should be treated like any other. Gone are the days when leapers, epileptics or persons living with hiv were thrown out of the village. So why do we abandon people who are drug dependent? Why do we mis-diagnose their illness, as a manifestation of a life style we do not want to question? An illness is a condition, not a choice. Saying, and accepting the contrary is an abdication of the state´s responsibility to ensure the health of its citizens.
I therefore encourage you to support a drug control agenda that puts health first. This agenda should include a comprehensive range of measures, from abstinence and prevention, to treatment, and reducing the health and social consequences of drug abuse – a continuum of care properly financed, and aprt of mainstream health and social services.
Measures should be pursued in an integrated approach, starting from square one. The hiv/AIDS campaign is based on the A-B-C principle, with A standing for abstinence. Well. We urge you all to do the same in drug related health programs, and adopt a set of principles that may stretch from A to Z (or whatever you may wish), assigning however the same meaning to A.
In other words, governments, international institutions and you all should not shy away from proclaiming the importance of avoiding drugs: A for abstinence. Unfortunately the opposite is happening in so many societies.
What about proclaiming loud and clear the virtue of drug abstinence? Actually, this is only the first part of a sorrow story. The second part is even more disheartening. Some of the (implicit) messages we hear are startling: take drugs if you wish, and we teach you how to reduce the damage they cause. This is not only counter.intuitive – it is plainly wrong. Harm reduction, on its own, is necessary but also not sufficient. If not integrated into more complex drug control processes that start with abstinence and treatment, then harm reduction only perpetuates drug use. Would you tell an obese friend – have more sweets my dear, then get an insulin shot? Of course not. So let us be evidence-based and coherent. I urge you all to join the Copernican revolution that we have been leading over the years to effect a reversal of priorities in drug policy – not just destroying drug crops and arresting drug traffickers, not just handing out condoms, syringes, needles or soups but implementing a comprehensive package of measures to cover prevention, treatment and reintegration.
In this way we can reach all those who are vulnerable to drugs, or already affected by them. I urge the leaders of the harm reduction movement to join in this call for enhanced prevention and treatment so that we can show the world how balanced we are in our programs.
We must mobilize a broad cross-section of society – the medical profession, social workers, universities, and NGOs, in order to train professionals, disseminate evidence-based practice, and improve access to quality services. We must also involve municipalities and schools to provide support to students and parents. Beu_ond 2008, drug control should also put a stronger emphasis on human rights.
I believe that although drugs kill, we shouldn´t kill because of drugs. The UNODC office is working with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and a number of NGOs to make states more aware of their obligations in relation to human rights in relation to drug control.
Ladies and gentlemen, UNODC is producing discussion papers on a range of issues including harm reduction, principles of drug dependence treatment, and making drug control fit for purpose. Some are already available on the UNODC website, others are coming soon.
We are also supporting the UNGASS process, not least by encouraging states to live up to their commitments. A lax approach in one country or for one type of drug – like cannabis – can unravel the entire system.
After all, to be successful, drug control must be truly global. We are concerned by signs of consumption displacement – from the developed to the developing world. A ”supply push”, as traffickers look for new markets and new routes to reach old ones, seems to be merging with a ”demand pull” as lifestyles and consumption patterns migrate, promoted by ever more interactive media, cheaper travel and higher income. This is a dangerous trend that must be guarded against.
To conclude Mr Chairman, there is still much to be done to solve the drug problem and mitigate its consequences. This is more than an inter-governmental or UN-centric process. It is about the future of our societies. Therefore, we need to hear from those on the front lines – from you.
Moving drug control beyond 2008 requires solidarity – among states taking a shared responsibility, between governments and civil society working together, and among all of humanity to ensure that no one falls through the cracks because of drug dependence.
In that spirit of solidarity I thank you for your dedication.
Thank you for your attention.
Tuesday 9th of September, Plenary Session 2, about Drug-Free rehabilitation
Mr Ove Rosengren, President of The Swedish National Association for a Drug-free Society (RNS): No problem is so large that drugs will not make them larger!
In European terms, Sweden has been relatively successful in containing the abuse of illicit drugs. It was in fact in Sweden that the European drug epidemic first emerged after World War II and then spread to neighbouring countries.
In the period 1965-67 Sweden carried out an abortive experiment in legally prescribing drugs. This experiment proved a failure and in fact served only to fan the flames. Our organization, RNS (The Swedish National Association for a Drug-free Society), was founded in 1969 as a reaction against the highly permissive national drugs policy at the time. Our efforts to bring about a restrictive drug policy towards illicit drugs met with heavy resistance from large parts of the Swedish establishment and media. However, our message gradually started to make itself heard among the public at large and eventually met with a highly positive response. The late 1970s and early 1980s in Sweden were a period of fierce debate and intense internal opposition. However, we succeeded in persuading the policy makers that it was vital to tackle access to illicit drugs methodically, first and foremost by reducing exposure at the individual level.
In 1980 we were successful in getting the Prosecutor General to direct all the country’s public prosecutors to pursue all possession of illicit drugs, irrespective of amount. In 1988 we were also instrumental in persuading the Swedish Parliament to declare the consumption of illicit drugs illegal. These are two of the most important decisions underpinning Sweden’s drug policy today.
A study published by UNODC in 2006 found that Sweden, more than other countries, recognized the importance of placing the individual at the centre of the efforts to combat the abuse of drugs, because it is the consumer who is the only irreplaceable link in the entire drugs chain.
The main driving force behind this policy was the late professor of social medicine, Nils Bejerot. He was also the founder of RNS which I have had the privilege of representing for almost 40 years. Not only did Bejerot maintain that demand was the most decisive factor in the emergence of a drugs market but he also understood the importance of harnessing borad popular support for a restrictive national drugs strategy.
Nils Bejerot liked to quote the old beatnik and connoisseur of illegal substances, William Burroughs, who in his novel Naked Lunch compared the drugs market with a pyramid of numbers, I quote:
”If we wish to alter or annihilate a pyramid of numbers in a serial relation, you alter or remove the bottom number. If we wish to annihilate the junk pyramid, we must start with the bottom of the pyramid: the addict in the street, and stop tilting quixotically for the higher ups’ so called, all of whom are immediately replaceable. The addict in the street, who must have his junk to live is the one irreplaceable factor in the junk equation. When there are no more addicts to buy junk, there will be no junk traffic.
We at RNS maintain that it is drug consumption that is the root of the problem. Virtually all the spread of drug abuse occurs via those who are already addicted; distribution is almost entirely in the hands of the addicts themselves. The most important reason for the superiority of the demand strategy is that it is the only one that has proved effective. All other strategies have, without exception, failed.
In spite of our relative success in Sweden, the question of what constitutes a genuinely restrictive policy has remained a controversial issue. Without boring you with all the ins and outs of the Swedish drug debate, I would like to address three misunderstandings which are important because they stand in the way of a realistic view of the drug epidemic and the kind of measures that must be taken.
Firstly, the view that only people with psychosocial problems choose or are chosen by drugs. WRONG. This assertion ignores that fact that the longer a drug epidemic – or more correctly an epidemic of addicts – is allowed to spread, the less experimenting with drugs becomes a breach of norms and less individual susceptibility plays a part in being drawn into it.
Secondly, the belief that addicts generally want treatment. WRONG. What is true is that the majority of addicts now and then want care on their own terms. In other words, they want relief from the complications which accompany addiction and their lifestyle without necessarily being willing to sacrifice the high which the drug experience gives them. It is not until the habit becomes difficult and risky – what the literature calls care motivation’ – kicks in. Please note that we are not advocating harder measures and longer sentences. We do, on the other hand, call for early discovery and early intervention.
A third misunderstanding is that the drugs problem can only be vanquished by effectively fighting organizing of crime. WRONG. Criminal gangs and drug syndicates are actually belated consequences of a constantly growing demand on the part of an enthusiastic market driven by the psychosocial contagion of addiction at the individual level. This means that every gang that is busted today and every drugs baron who is put beind bars will be replaced by a new, better organized one as long as it remains so enormously profitable to supply the demand for illicit drugs.
Having worked with the care for addicts and at the heavy end of correctional care for most of my professional life, I am the last person to reject the necessity of proving treatment as long as it is based on scientific evidence and proven practice. I am, between you and me, a true supporter of the twelve-step culture’, which I see as one of the most important rehabilitation factors.
But solving the drugs problem is not chiefly an issue of care resources but rather one of strategy. Regardless of how important the therapies offered by the care services may be – not least in humanitarian terms – treatment will never be anything else but a defensive strategy. Neither does it have any appreciable effect on the drugs epidemic because virtually the entire spread of drug abuse, from established addict to novice, has taken place long before the addict possibly comes to the conclusion that he or she needs help.
Here we should bear in mind that addiction in its early stages is often a fun state’ to be in, characterized by denial. At this stage the addict romanticizes the kick that the drug experience gives him or her and often wants to share it with others. We should also remember that the vast majority of illicit drugs users today are what I would call hobby consumers with jobs, family and a reputation to safeguard. This group of socially established customers forms the economic backbone of the drugs market, yet they do not regard themselves as junkies or abusers.
Rather than trying to restrict the addict epidemic by means of a consistently strict drugs strategy, we are in fact investing ever more resources in the treatment of those who are already hooked. An old English rule of thumb in social medicine says, very aptly, that ”a pennyworth of prevention is worth more than a pound of treatment.” Yet these days we have an individual-centred approach to therapy which has increasingly lost sight of the crucial role of general prevention. Proponents of a liberal drugs policy are found today not only among the users of drugs; a whole culture of helpers and people caring, for example, has emerged whose entire professional life and energy is devoted to dealing with the end of the problem, turning their back to early prevention. Many have also embraced the social determination that flourishes among the guilt-ridden middle classes and which narrowly insists that drug-taking and crime can be exclusively attributed to outsidership and marginalization.
In short. A country’s drug policy in its entirety is of fundamental importance for both treatment and prevention. A drugs strategy must be proactive, not merely reactive. This is of utmost importance for the success of both treatment and prevention.
Once a culture of drug abuse has been created, a liberal and permissive drugs policy will emerge among illegal drug users, which in turn will give rise to the need for extra police powers and greater investment in a care apparatus which often sees its clients as helpless, irresponsible victims. George Vaillant, a professor at Harvard and a giant in the field of alcohol research, was one of the first to warn about this professional permissiveness which he saw as a serious threat vis a vis the weak or lacking impulse control which is so characteristic of drug addicts.
The increasingly medically focused treatment philosophy which is gaining ground and which concentrates on individuals who are already heavily addicted, legitimizes the demotion and undermines policies which focus on prevention. That adds numerous new drugs to already existing problems and create confusion among the public and professionals alike. This medicalisation chooses to see the drugs problem first and foremost as an issue for medical specialists. By exaggerating the success potential of this philosophy, the implementation of primary and secondary preventive measures, which would be more effective, is delayed. Treatments are generally preferred for reasons of ideology or convenience because they give the appearance of being effective and also help to persuade the anti-drugs sections of public opinion that strong measure are being taken.
An effective drugs policy must combine a whole range of measures coordinated within the framework of a strategic plan. To be credible, this plan must place the norm-breaking and responsibility of the individual at its centre. It must also recognize that it is the possession and consumption of drugs by individuals, rather than international syndicates or growers in distant parts of the world, that forms the economic foundation for the expansion of the market.
History teaches us that when a devastating problem threatens or attacks society and its children, people will come together and protect them. The bad and evil can get some but never all the power. With so many dedicated people here today, there is hope. Organised knowledge is power and hope!
Together we stand, divided we fall.
Wednesday 10th of September, Closing session
Mr Sven-Olov Carlsson, President IOGT-NTO Sweden, Speech at the World Forum Against Drugs
Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
There are few places on earth that can be considered remote anymore. Long-distance travel that used to take weeks or months is now just a few hours away by airplane. The world is industrialising at an ever increasing rate. It is estimated that by 2030, 61% of the global population will live in urban areas, many of them in so-called super-cities of 20 million or more people. Tokyo or Mexico city will no longer be the exception, many of these huge conglomerations will be in the developing world. Historically mass migrations from the countryside to cities have resulted in the creation of slum areas, social deprivation and environmental damage.
Television and radio programmes can reach people even when roads cannot. In fact they are regularly used to pass health education messages to rural groups. Mobiles phones, once the fashion accessory of the business elite, have become everyday tools to link communities. But there are other aspects to this situation as well where the modern technology can be used for negative aims.
Not everyone has benefited equally from globalisation. The emergence of transnational corporations that dominate global markets has resulted in startling inequalities.
Of the world’s 100 largest economic entities, 51 are now corporations and 49 are countries. Three quarters of the worlds top 200 corporations are based in the industrialized countries. They account for more than one quarter of global economic activity while employing less than one percent of its workforce. Those same corporations have annual sales of 18 times the size of the combined annual income of the 1.2 billion people (24 percent of the total world population) living in ”severe” poverty.
Communities that live in areas where illicit drugs are grown or sourced also suffer harm from global drug abuse because their social, political and economic development is hampered by the drug trade.
Drug trafficking impacts most heavily on some of the worlds poorest communities, undermining efforts to support their positive development and destroying local cultures.
This is the environment and the realities we have to face when we talk about Drug Abuse Prevention.
Human beings cannot exist in isolation. We live together in families, social networks and communities. We invest in each other and our relationships, we value and maintain our connections.
In order to have our needs met, we rely on each other for love, affection, support, care and understanding. Our society is therefore based on complex interactions and dependencies.
Drugs undermine all of this.
Drugs distort an individuals decision-making process, limiting the ability to care for oneself or others.
Drug abuse overrides or replaces healthy social interaction, undermining the fundamental relationships within society.
All aspects of drugs result in widespread harm, from cultivation, production, transport, distribution and consumption.
Drug prevention work has a strong interaction with other drugs, above all alcohol and tobacco. Use of different drugs often occur together, with shared mechanisms of dependence and the resulting harm often comes from combined misuse of several substances. People who die from overdose often have large quantities of alcohol and legal drugs in the blood.
It is therefore very important that prevention is not directed towards one group of substances, but involves joint action against alcohol, tobacco, drugs and doping.
In 2003, the world s first global treaty on health was signed. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) took 4 long years of negotiations between the 191 member countries of the World Health Organisation. The most important feature of the FCTC is that it covers all aspects of tobacco, ranging from health warnings on the packets to the advertising, promotion and sponsorship activities of tobacco companies. In addition, the treaty sets out measures to control the sale of cigarettes to minors and to tackle smuggling. Attention is also given to supporting farmers to diversify their crops and to find other ways of earning a living than growing tobacco. Basically, the treaty covers the whole cycle of tobacco from the plant to the end product. It is the foundation of a global commitment to a comprehensive strategy to combat tobacco. It links together elements of supply and demand.
As you can imagine, finding a balance between all the competing interests of the countries was a real challenge. The World Health Organisation maintained a strong political commitment and complete focus during all of the slow and sometimes painful negotiations. To support the WHO, the health community united around the process. A special coalition of NGOs shadowed the negotiations, keeping up the pressure on the governments and monitoring and exposing attempts by the tobacco industry to infiltrate national delegations or influence the debate.
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is a good example what can be achieved when committed NGOs cooperate and work together.
NGOs support and reinforce social connections between people.
They build stronger and more resilient societies, upholding the key values of cooperation, solidarity, human rights, justice and equality of opportunity.
NGOs give communities a voice, particularly those without political or economic power which suffer disproportionately from global drug abuse.
Drugs have no place in this vision and always involve harm.
Like-minded NGOs and community groups need therefore to work together to counteract pressure to liberalise drug policy.
Policy-makers at all levels need an awareness of the harm of drug abuse. NGOs has an important role to play in this matter.
As NGOs we have a number of assets:
– First of all, many of us share similar fundamental values and are all committed to working towards the same aim.
– We also enjoy significant levels of public trust and confidence. A number of surveys have consistently shown that NGOs are considered more trustworthy, more than governments or industry.
– NGOs have the capacity to work together in a collaborative way. By sharing information, ideas, advocacy tactics we can move the global agenda forward.
– Globalisation can also work in our favour. We can influence the political, social and economic environments internationally. We can hold governments accountable for their policy decisions at home and abroad.
The strength of the international drug control system is its universality, with all governments solidly behind the United Nations drug conventions.
But drug policies are too important to be left to drug experts and to governments alone. It is a society-wide responsibility that requires society-wide engagement. This means working with children, starting from parents and teachers, to ensure that they develop self-esteem. This means to support family-based programmes, because prevention begins at home. This means advocacy.
People can be steered away from drugs. And those that do suffer the misery of addiction can be brought back into society. This is the true meaning of harm reduction which goes far beyond its usual narrow definition.
– We all want to help the poor farmers – to switch from crops to sustainable livelihoods.
– We all want to help de drug addicts – to save them from a life of misery.
– We all want to reduce the violence and crime associated with the drug economy.
My key message is:
Human rights are incompatible with drug abuse. All individuals have the right to a life that is not harmed by drugs. Policy-makers need to defend and protect this right. The rights and interests of drug users are not served by supporting the continuation of drug abuse.
Alcohol, tobacco and drugs are phenomena that affect every geographic region in the world and no country can tackle these problems alone. To have any impact, there has to be a consistent approach to these products and this means creating strong coalitions that can help governments to find the political will to act.
As NGOs we can play a crucial and a very important role in this matter. As NGOs we share a common responsibility to take this initiative and this conference – The World Forum Against Drugs – further and strengthen this effort.
For the health community, this is our opportunity and challenge!
Thank you for your attention.
Calvina Fay, Drug Free America Foundation
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen! I want to extend my congratulations to the conveners of this excellent conference. And the terrific speakers who have provided valuable contributions are to be commended.
It has been very refreshing to see so many of my long-time and my newly found colleagues here participating in this important event. And it has been great to meet many new people. It has been a wonderful opportunity to share our experiences and to learn new information.
I think we can all agree that drugs are a problem. Today we are faced with new and more powerful drugs as well as a society that has, in many countries, become too tolerant of them.
As David Evans mentioned, In the United States, there is a very large and very well financed movement to normalize and legalize drug use and drug trafficking. Much of that movement is funded by a name that many of you know – George Soros, a convicted criminal who has publicly labeled himself as an atheist and yet has claimed that he is God…
Mr. Soros is about power and fame. His philosophy is to destroy societies that he does not like and then recreate them using his ”open society” model. He destroys by creating chaos. And what better way to create chaos in society than to have a drug-addicted population that dominates. To have societies with drug-friendly laws and policies will certainly contribute to creating this chaos.
As in some other countries, Mr. Soros seeks to destroy our political system in the US and to create chaos in our judicial and law enforcement systems and even in our military.
He has contributed millions to the drug legalization movement as well as bought many of our politicians. When legislative bills are moving through state legislatures or congressional bills through the US Congress that are pro-drug, anti-treatment, anti-law enforcement, or anti-prevention, we almost always discover that the bills are sponsored by politicians who have taken money from Soros. This is factual and can be confirmed by checking public records of campaign finance.
Likewise, when voter initiatives appear on state and local ballots in the US to alter our drug laws towards a more permissive practice, such as legalizing marijuana as a so-called medicine, funding needle giveaway programs, prohibiting judges from sending drug dealers to jail, or legalizing drugs, these initiatives are always funded by Mr. Soros and/or some of his business colleagues.
Just since the beginning of 2008, we have seen an extraordinary increase in drug legalization efforts and activities in the US. During this short time period, no less than 91 different pieces of pro-legalization voter initiatives and legislation have been filed in 26 states and a number of cities across the nation. This year, we have also been confronted with two federal bills: one that seeks to legalize marijuana as a so-called medicine throughout the nation and one that seeks to legalize the possession of up to 3.5 ounces of marijuana for non-medical use. For those of you who do not know – 3.5 ounces will roll somewhere between 210 and 420 joints, depending upon the quality of the marijuana.
The good news is that, thanks to hard work of many committed individuals and much collaborative work, only 6 of the 91 proposed actions ultimately were approved and 4 of those will most likely not be able to be implemented.
This tells me two very important things: 1) it is not the will of the public to have these permissive policies; and 2) when we all work together and push back, we can indeed win.
Clearly, we are under attack. And this attack is not limited to the borders of the United States as has clearly been demonstrated from the presentations of others here at this conference. My work at Drug Free America Foundation takes me to many countries. I have had the honor and privilege of working with colleagues from around the world. And everywhere I go, the name and evil influence of Soros is known. His drug legalization blueprint is promoted globally.
This blueprint has a common theme with specific strategies that we see promoted worldwide:
Marijuana and other illegal drugs as medicine
Human rights issues
Now no one would argue against reducing the harms of drugs but, this term is greatly misapplied and abused by those seeking to normalize and legalize drugs. The concept of harm reduction has become associated with needle exchange and so-called safe injection site programs which not only accept drug use without attempting to help people become drug free but, also were established without solid evidence that such programs actually reduce HIV and other blood-borne infections. The drug legalization proponents who advocate for these programs claim that abstinence is unrealistic and not a desired goal of their strategy.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has issued a very clear statement about harm reduction. They have said that if harm reduction’ is done exclusively, namely without prevention, treatment, and law enforcement, it will make a mockery of any control system, send the wrong message and only perpetuate drug use.
I suggest that the only sure way to prevent drug-related harm is to prevent or to stop drug use. Any efforts that fail to strive toward this goal should be viewed with skepticism and challenged as ”harm promotion” rather than harm reduction.
Drug policies that embrace harm reduction strategies without a goal of leading the user to abstinence inevitably ignore the harms of the drugs themselves and instead focus solely on the harms caused by their use. They create the perception that drugs are not dangerous and ok if ”safely” or ”responsibly” used, a perception that undoubtedly increases drug use. These strategies undermine prevention messages as they prolong addiction.
The legitimate concept of harm reduction understands minimizing harm within the context of prevention, treatment and law enforcement with a primary focus on prevention – a dramatic difference from sustaining the addiction of individuals and losing sight of their human rights to be drug-free and productive members of society.
Those who advocate for softening our drug laws and normalizing and legalizing drugs continuously raise the human rights issue. And certainly we all recognize that human rights are precious and should not be violated. But, these advocates have pushed the envelope too far when they began espousing that it is the ”human right” of individuals to use drugs and endanger not only their own lives but the lives of others. With rights, come responsibilities and that is something that drug users know or care very little about.
I maintain that the harm reduction strategies promoted by the drug legalization advocates are a gross violation of human rights. Your and my rights who are drug free but would be affected by drug users – and the rights of addicts who are entitled to effective drug policies and treatment that will help them to get well.
And speaking of getting well – let’s talk a minute about the fraudulent campaigns to legalize marijuana as a so-called medicine. This illusion that has been created by the Soros minions that marijuana is a so-called medicine is a huge violation of human rights! Truly sick people who deserve legitimate medical treatment have been duped into believing that marijuana will help them, while in reality it is hurting them. All because a special interest group is advancing a hidden agenda to normalize and legalize marijuana use. The sad thing is that people smoking pot probably do feel better even if they are not getting better but they could also feel better by smoking crack cocaine or injecting heroin. Will these be the next drugs to legalize as so-called medicine?
The drug legalization movement certainly has more money than we do but, we are on the right side. We have science and solid data behind us. History has shown that restrictive drug policies do work. The very successful restrictive drug policy of Sweden is a perfect example of what works! On the contrary, history has shown that permissive policies are flawed and do not work, as evidenced with the permissive policies based upon so-called harm reduction rather than the goal of abstinence in countries such as Australia.
Obviously, our policies should be humane and compassionate but should not tolerate drug use and drug trafficking. Drug policy should be well balanced with prevention, treatment, and law enforcement and interdiction efforts.
Contrary to what the drug legalization advocates claim, it is not the restrictive drug policies that are harmful, it is the drug itself. There are no ”safe” ways to use drugs. Policies that condone and prolong drug use should not be tolerated. Such policies are a travesty and a gross violation of the rights of individuals who suffer from addiction. These individuals should never be thrown away through programs that take the easy way out by maintaining them on drugs rather than leveraging them toward sobriety.
A great and honorable man once said ”The ultimate determinant in the struggle that’s now going on in the world will not be bombs and rockets, but a test of wills and ideas, a trial of spiritual resolve, the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish, and the ideals to which we are dedicated.” That man was former American President and world leader, Ronald Reagan. He uttered these words over 2 decades ago but they are even truer today.
My friends, we are at a crossroads in history with drug policy. It is a struggle like we have never seen in our lifetime. A struggle in which we cannot surrender. A struggle we cannot ignore. A struggle that requires ALL of us to engage and push back with a mighty force.
Former President Ronald Reagan told us Americans long ago ”If we continue to accommodate, continue to back up and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand – the ultimatum.” And I say to you today in this battle that we find ourselves – engaged against the scourge of drugs and against those forces that seek to normalize and legalize drugs by weakening our drug laws and policies, ”If we continue to accommodate, continue to back up and retreat, eventually we will indeed have to face the final demand – the ultimatum of a world fueled by drug use, drug trafficking, and all of the social ills associated with such a society. We absolutely cannot continue to accommodate, back up and retreat on the drug issue. We must face it head on. We must stand firm with restrictive, yet compassionate and humane drug policies – for the future of our children and the future of our human race.
When we are born, we are not patted gently on the back and wished well in life. We are smacked on the rear end and thrown into life with a series of challenges that require us to accept individual responsibility for our personal destiny. Shortly after being born we begin to cry. Some choose to go thru life whining while others take action. In going through life, it is helpful to remember the old saying – ”If it is to be, it is up to me.”
My fellow colleagues, I suggest that if we are to win this battle it truly is up to me and to YOU. YOU must get involved and stay involved. It is a battle worth fighting and it is one that is winnable.
This is why I am endorsing the Declaration put forth from this conference and I encourage you to also take the time to sign on with your endorsement and then not let this conference be the end of your commitment. Let’s all stay connected, take a stand, and fight this fight together because as we say in America, ”United we stand, divided we fall!”
At the beginning of this Forum Minister Larsson declared, ”Let the Games begin”. As this Forum closes I say ”Let the Games continue”.
I will conclude with my favorite quote from Ronald Reagan – ”You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.”
Thank you and God bless.
Jo Baxter, Drug Free Australia – The importance of WFAD – an Australian Perspective
Excellencies, Conference Organisers, Distinguished Colleagues and Friends – May I extend sincerest thanks, on behalf of Drug Free Australia, to Her Majesty, Queen Silvia for her Patronage of the First World Forum against Drugs and to the visionary organisers of the historic event we have all experienced over the last 3 days.
My segment of this Closing Session is entitled, The importance of WFAD – an Australian Perspective.
Ladies and Gentlemen, quite simply, Australia’s Illicit Drug Policy must change – and this Forum has the potential to be a catalyst to do that – in very real terms.
The fact is that, according to the United Nations World Drug Report, Australia continues to have one of the highest illicit drug use rates in the OECD. Yet statistics show that the majority of Australians do not want, nor do they approve of these drugs.
The 2007 National Household Survey results show that:
99 percent don’t approve of hard drugs
94 percent don’t approve of cannabis
79 percent don’t want cannabis legalised
Most Australians want tougher penalties for drug dealers.
Let me share with you my dream – it is the dream of the majority of Australians – to rid our country of the scourge of illicit drugs. But before I do so, it is important for me to introduce you to the organisation I represent here today.
Drug Free Australia (DFA), was formally established in 2002, after many years of planning by dedicated people who could see the destructive influence of Harm Reduction, without prevention and effective Demand Reduction in Australia’s drug policy.
In 2006, with some Federal Government funding, Drug Free Australia was able to begin its community education and outreach programs more effectively.
We have a high profile Patron, tennis champion, Dr Margaret Court and a dedicated President, Mr Craig Thompson, recently retired Family Court magistrate and specialist in drug-related mental health disorders. We have a national Board of Directors with vast experience in alcohol and drug rehabilitation, education, and law enforcement fields. One of our Directors may be known to many of you – Major Brian Watters, who is also a member of the INCB.
Our work is supported by 24 Research Fellows, an influential group of specialists who advise us on national and international matters – seven of whom, I am very pleased to say, have been present at this Forum.
In the last 2 years, DFA has also built a strong supporter base comprising individuals and organisations representing almost 217,000 people.
In the same period, we have established an expanding group of youth advisers who assist us with community education and keep us current on matters relating to young people – who, as we have heard at this conference – are some of the most vulnerable when it comes to the dangers of drug use.
Now, let us look at Australia’s current drug policy and what it has delivered to the Australian people. I have time today, only to give you a snapshot:
Internationally comparisons are very alarming
As mentioned previously, we have the highest rates of overall drug use in the OECD. The main drugs of concern are the use of ATS – and in particular Ecstasy. If we compare Australia and Sweden, Australia is much higher is all drug categories, with ATS being at least 20 times greater use per capita that in Sweden. Specific statistics bear this out – so, in terms of drug use, let us look at what has happened over the last 12 months in Australia …
The trends from the 2007 Household Survey
A 2% drop in cannabis use. BUT there are still at least 200,000 people in Australia (in a population of 20 million people) who admit to being addicted to cannabis. With current evidence of direct links to mental illness and a raft of other health and safety issues, we should be more than a little concerned.
An ANCD report in 2006 indicated an alarmingly high use of methamphetamines, with a conservative 73,000 addicted to the drug ICE’. Even with a slight drop of 0.9% (or less than 700 people) this is an area of growing concern.
An increase in underage binge drinking; an unprecedented increase in cocaine use.Further, in the youth population:1 in 10 12-14 year olds binge drink; 1 in 5 16 year olds drank at harmful levels; 1 in 7 secondary school students use cannabis; over 67,000 secondary students have used amphetamines
And some new evidence this week on drug driving, with a Victorian Police study showing that 15% of drivers killed in road accidents tested positive to cannabis and 8% to amphetamines. Ladies and Gentlemen, these figures have tripled since 2003.
Research compiled by the Australian Institute of Family Studies and reported this week, has found that a substantial number of Australian children are living in households where adults routinely misuse alcohol and other drugs.
The research shows that in cases of substantiated child abuse or neglect, 33 per cent of parents experienced significant problems with substance abuse and 31 per cent with alcohol abuse.
And disturbingly, it is estimated that 30 per cent of abused or neglected children go on to maltreat children in some way when they are adults.
It also warns that existing data underestimates the impact of drug and alcohol abuse on children, because current national surveys do not collect information on parental status or child care responsibilities.
We ask … When are we going to look seriously at the Rights of the Child?
Why is Australia in this unacceptable position? The answer is quite simply, that a policy of Harm Minimisation has been adopted, without the necessary prevention and demand reduction strategies in place.
Harm Minimisation’ – in real terms sends the message that: illegal drug use will always exist, so why try to change? drug users should have a right to choose when (or if) they will stop using and they should be assisted to use illegal drugs more safely.
This policy equates to parking the ambulance at the bottom of a cliff to catch the people as they fall off’.
How does this policy translate into Harm Reduction, without prevention? This list is extensive, but here are a few examples: An injecting room in Sydney; Needle Programs that lack accountability including no exchange nor referral requirement; Brochures with mixed messages directed to young people and students in schools – for example, if you choose to use’ here is how to do it safely; Lack of funding for recovery-based rehabilitation BUTFunding for drug user organisations – for example there is an organization called the Australian Injecting Drug Users’ League that received funding for peer education’ to help people use drugs safely’; high priority to Methadone maintenance – many people remain on methadone for life, and overdose rates are high; decriminalisation of cannabis – where at most, people are given a warning, or perhaps charged an expiation fee;
drug traffickers who receive light or even suspended sentences – little or no deterrent in the legal system and there is also a lack of consistency in drug laws across the country.
What are the solutions?
In the relatively short time of two and a half years, Drug Free Australia has worked hard to bring the issues and solutions into communities at the local level AND to talk to political leaders.
For example, we have:
Conducted community forums in every state and territory to educate people; compiled of eight (8) research papers to government; presented to Federal Parliamentary Inquiries; worked in High Schools, particularly in conjunction with a National Schools Competition – Let’s Keep Drug Free’; worked directly with indigenous communities.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I take special time out to mention DFA’s work with Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. On the first day of this Forum we heard from my fellow Australian, Tania Major about the plight of Australia’s Indigenous people – with the shocking fact that conservatively alcohol and drug related deaths among her people are 21 times higher than in the overall population. We also heard that the youth population is particularly vulnerable. Drug Free Australia is working hard to bring these issues to the notice of the government. We are in a unique position, due to the work of one of our Directors and her husband (a doctor) who work closely, on the ground, with the peoples of Bagot Community in Darwin. As a result, we have had direct consultations with indigenous communities in Darwin, Arnhem Land and in Central Australia and have produced a working paper for the Federal Government’s latest inquiry. As a result of this Forum, I would like to continue contact with Tania in support of her efforts.
In our work with political leaders we have asked numerous questions and provided them with policy statements for consideration as alternatives to those of Harm Minimisation.
We are encouraged by the fact that the new Federal Government’s illicit drug policy covers prevention. Therefore our current line of discussion covers questions such as: Will there be an equivalent to the Tough on Drugs’ strategy? Will the recommendations of the 2007 bi-partisan Parliamentary Inquiry into the Impact of Illicit Drugs on Families and its report entitled The Winnable War on Drugs’, be seriously considered?
What is the impact of the new National Corrections Strategy and the government’s position on allowing needles in prisons? What is the Federal Government’s reaction to the lobbying of the international pro drug group the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) in its attempts to form partnerships with government agencies?
Most importantly, will the Australian government vote to retain the United Nations Drug Conventions at a UN meeting in 2009?
Ladies and Gentlemen – dear friends, there is a lot to be done, but WFAD offers very real solutions and opportunities for us all.
I personally have taken heart in getting to know many of you and the issues you face. We now know that we are not alone.
Although this is the concluding session, I’m sure you will agree with me that it represents an exciting new beginning. Let us take heart from the wise words of Dr Robert DuPont: You alone can do it, but you cannot do it alone’
Let us continue to work together in 3 ways:
• Continue to network
• Support and sign the WFAD Resolution for the UNGASS meeting in 2009
Help to realize the historical formation of a World FEDERATION Against Drugs
• Let us tell our supporters – this year is CRITICAL
Again, may I say a sincere thank you to the hard working organisers of this amazing Forum and to say – we are here to support all future outcomes from it and global initiatives in drug prevention.
… Against Drugs. Första konferensen hölls i 2008 i Stockholm. Därpå tre till i Stockholm ( 2010, 2012 och i maj 2014 tillsammans med ECAD:s borgmästarkonferens). Det femte hölls 12-13 mars i Wien, i samband med FN:s 59:e CND-möte, inför Ungass.
• World Federation Against Drugs , WFAD, som ordnare konferenserna har nära 170 medlemsorganisationer från alla kontinenter.