Grassroots-level bodies have key role to play in fighting drug use, says UN narcotics czar

25 March 2011

Community and grassroots initiatives have a crucial role to play in preventing drug use, the United Nations anti-narcotics chief said today.

“Drug control is not all about governments and law enforcement; it is also about families, teachers, youth leaders and mentors,” UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Yury Fedotov told a meeting of activists in Vienna on the margins of a week-long conference of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs.

“Prevention starts with a community that cares about the vulnerable. Think globally, act locally,” he said, stressing that community-level action must be stepped up.

Mr. Fedotov said he welcomed dialogue with all parties, including those with different opinion. However, he said: “Let us not argue on the key issue – there are people who need treatment.”

He praised those who quietly went about their work away from the media spotlight: “You are the unsung heroes of society. Sometimes all a person needs is a chance and a helping hand. Your support and encouragement can make a profound difference to people in despair,” he said.

UNODC is developing evidence-based family skills training, drug education to build up life skills and self-esteem to prevent substance use among children and teenagers, and programmes to address substance abuse in the workplace.

“Together, we can work towards effective community problem-solving strategies, teaching them how to assess their local substance abuse-related problems and develop a comprehensive plan to address them,” he said. “We need to know what makes some people vulnerable to addiction. So I intend to broaden consultation with all members of society, from policy-makers to home-makers.”

 

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