Activity

The Consolidated Youth for Peace & Development (COYPED) a registered non-for-profit youth-led organization has made the latest call for sustainable rehabilitation program for war affected and disadvantaged youth who are substance users in Liberia.

Speaking recently in an exclusive interview with SKY Television and SKY FM Radio, the Executive Director of the Consolidated Youth for Peace & Development, James Koryor stressed that the current initiative by the Liberian Government through the Liberia National Police to get substance users off the streets especially many of whom are engage into daily street crimes in the nation capital is laudable and must be sustained.

Mr. Koryor used the occasion to call on relevant institutions of government to institute sustainable program that would focus firstly on rehabilitation as a means of providing other services like technical skills to enable those substance users to become useful citizens.

The COYPED Boss furthered stated that the current alcohol and drug addiction situation in the country is alarming and needs attention by all stakeholders including civil society organizations stressing that over 75% of substance users in Liberia are young people who if much attention is not given to could be a serious problem in the future.

The youth advocate also stated that there are lots of circumstances surrounding the increase in drug abuse in Liberia including the 14 years civil war and illicit drug trafficking that can be considered as major reasons.

Mr. Koryor stressed that there is an urgent need to address the current drug abuse crisis in Liberia ranging from enforcement of strong laws for drug traffickers and smugglers, providing rehabilitation opportunities, care and support for substance users who are victims of the situation. The lack or limited rehabilitation facilities in the country is considered as a real obstacle to achieving a sustainable rehabilitation program for substance users in Liberia he asserted.

The COYPED Executive Director also inform the media that his organization over the years has been working and focusing on prevention but he believes that it is time that COYPED institute a program that will provide care and support for substance users through the establishment of a safe home and rehabilitation center. He also called on the Ministry of Youth & Sports, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection as well as key stakeholder to support his organization new initiative.

He further stated that he will also solicited support both materials and financial form philanthropists and charity organizations abroad to ensure that war affected youth who are substance users and homeless are supported and care for in Liberia.

COYEC 2
17 October, 2016

Open letter to:
Karin Wanngård - Mayor of Stockholm
Åsa Lindhagen - Chair, Committee of Social welfare, Stockholm
Sara Pettigrew - Board member of ECAD, representing Stockholm

Regarding Stockholm’s discussion to leave ECAD
The signatories of this letter are concerned over the fact that Stockholm is considering leaving European Cities Against Drugs (ECAD), an organization it founded. We have been informed that one of the reasons for this potential withdrawal is concern that ECAD has lost its importance internationally.

Let us provide reflections on ECAD from our international perspective which stems from nations around the world.

ECAD is an important global voice for drug prevention. Some argue that prevention does not work, or think that instead of investing in prevention efforts we should put more of our limited resources on mitigating the effects of drugs. However, by being present on the international drug policy stage, ECAD has provided the world with clear examples of effective prevention from its member cities, showing that prevention does indeed work. Prevention gets at the root of the global drug problem by preventing and even delaying initiation to drug use, bringing tremendous cost savings to communities and nations worldwide. For these reasons it is of the utmost importance that we invest in prevention and that ECAD continue to lead on this front in the international debate as there are too few members of the civil society that can show good examples on a community level.

ECAD has also played a considerable role in shaping the debate about the roles of treatment and the criminal justice system in drug policy. Drug policy is not a choice between the systems of treatment and criminal justice; instead we must find ways to effectively use these two systems together that reduce drug use, increase access to and completion of drug treatment and limit incarceration. ECAD has been instrumental in identifying and promoting examples of how we can use the criminal justice system as a tool to promote and reinforce both prevention and treatment. Once again there are many useful examples of such effective policies and programs implemented at the local level from the ECAD members that must be shared on a global platform.

Finally, we want to emphasize that ECAD plays a critical role in the fight against the commercialization of cannabis which is financially backed by a powerful and growing cannabis industry. In the United States, three states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational uses. In November, California and four other states will vote on similar legalization measures. We also see policy shifts in Europe moving in the same direction. For example in the Netherlands the parliament is currently discussing legalizing the production of cannabis. The outcome of the upcoming state-based initiatives in the US will influence the European cities. We strongly encourage Stockholm to remain in ECAD. Withdrawing from ECAD would cripple the organization and directly limit the ability of ECAD to work against the commercialization of cannabis and other drugs on the European market.
ECAD builds on and promotes the successful extension of the Swedish drug restrictive policy that links the criminal justice system and health care and that seldom uses incarceration.

1 States voting on the legalization of cannabis for recreational uses include: Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. An additional four states will vote on measures related to the legalization of cannabis for medical uses include Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota.

Sincerely Yours,

Robert L. DuPont - MD, President, Institute for Behavior and Health, Former Director, National Institute on Drugs Abuse, USA

Linda Nilsson - Global voice of prevention, Civil Society Task Force for UNGASS 2016

Sven-Olov Carlsson - International President, World Federation Against Drugs

Boro Goic - Chairman, Recovered Users Network

Asia Ashraf - Hubert H. Humphrey Alumni, Head of Psychology Department and Director Rehabilitation, Sunny Trust, Pakistan

Mike Sabin - Former Member of Parliament, New Zealand

Jo Baxter - Executive Director, Drug Free Australia, Australia

Solomon Rataemane - Professor, Head Department of Psychiatry, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU), South Africa

Jon Sigfusson - Director, Youth in Europe – A Drug Prevention Program, Iceland

Inga Dora - CEO, Icelandic Centre for Social Research and Analysis, Iceland

Bertha K Madras - PhD, Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, USA

Carmen Fernandez - General Director, Centros de Integracion Juvenil, A.C., Mexico

Mina Gerhardsen - Secretary General, Norwegian Policy Network on Alcohol and Drugs, Norway

Stig-Erik Sørheim - Chair EURAD – A network for prevention, treatment and recovery, Global coordinator Drug Policy Futures

Hans Lundborg - Ambassador, Former Chair of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Sweden

Antonio Maria Costa - Former Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Kevin A. Sabet - Ph.D., President, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Director, Drug Policy Institute, University of Florida, President, Policy Solutions Group, USA

Neil McKeganey - Ph.D., Director, Centre for Substance Use Disorder, UK

Patrick J. Kennedy - Former U.S. Representative and Honorary Advisor, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, USA

Yvonne Thunell - Chairman, Mentor International, Mentor Sverige, Sweden
One of WFAD's member organization, Swedish Narcotics Officers Association was invited to share their input on the implementation of the outcome document form UNGASS in Vienna, October 11. 

Thank you Mr Chairman,

My name is Mika Jörnelius and I work as a police officer in Sweden and I am here to represent Swedish Narcotic Officers Association. SNOA.

Within the board of the SNOA, we have a total of 430 years’ experience working in the judiciary system. We have 2 100 members from police, customs, prosecutor’s office and from our national forensic laboratory.
 
We are consultative body in drug issues for the Swedish government
 
Every year SNOA inform and educate 4 -5 000 students, civilians and Law enforcement officers in different drug issues.
 
Law Enforcement plays an integral role in drug use prevention by protecting public safety, reducing the availability of drugs and discouraging drug use in the population. Law enforcement also take on the role of bridging the gap to the Health sector and social services and therefore serve as an engine for recovery for addicts. Several long and short term projects have been conducted in high intensive drug trafficking areas. These project with different authorities and bodies in society, works very focused and determined together. These project has shown to give the best sufficient results. Projects of that kind are very well documented and shows that it will be a quick visible change even during an increase and up going trend of both supply and demand for drugs. 

In the law enforcement society around the world it is obvious that this common approach is the best practise and we are surprised and disappointed that this knowledge and approach has not reached the politicians in such an extend so new policies will be adopted. The UNGASS outcome document offers a wide range of areas to improve supply reduction measures.

SNOA is ready and will support projects to expand the use of smarter sanctions such as drug courts, as alternatives to incarceration in more European countries. At the same time, as we know and are certain of, it`s the trafficking of drugs that is the most important catalyst heating up the all kinds of crimes!

Criminals and their organisations earn too much money on behalf of other humans suffering. To address serious organized crime, it`s important to encourage the use of asset recovery to cripple criminal player’s incentives to commit serious and organized crime. Recovered assets should not necessary fall into the hands of the law enforcement but rather be used by civil society for prevention or treatment purposes. 

SNOA has together with partners and colleagues in similar organisations in the US, closely followed the development of legalizing marijuana in different states. It`s a fact that the legalizers success is based on false reports together with a strong financial support from those who see possibility to earn a lot of money on people using drugs. The results from medical research has not been taken under consideration before the decisions to legalize.  It`s already possible to see the tragic consequences of that experiment. Mexican cartels are earning more money than ever because some US states have legalized marijuana. In Colorado has the marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 48 percent. A billion-dollar industry similar to Big Tobacco Company is established.  It is about time to recognize the very good achievements from law enforcement in the struggle to supress the drug problems.

Law enforcement have really made a difference in regards to both supply and demand of drugs. Officers around the world often meets and communicate with drug addicts on a daily basis in all kind of environments. In many cases the officers are the only persons they can turn to. How many addicts has not been motivated and helped to rehab, assisted by officers on their beat?

So far we have a great amount of public support. In Sweden and worldwide nine out of ten people have the same opinion; illegal drugs are bad.

The International Conventions on drugs and International agreement on cooperation are basic. This international cooperation is essential to combat serious cross-border crimes. But the laws, regulations and policies must correspond with the police resources when it comes to human resources and training.

Law enforcement must and can play an important role but not in solitary. If we are serious of reaching results and creating a better future for our young ones we must get together and find ways to work and act together during long time in able to reach sufficient and long lasting effects. The common goal should be to have a society without illegal drugs.

The keywords are prevention, prosecution and improved care initiatives

Thank you Mr Chairman

Mika CND
Mika Jörnelius at UNODC in Vienna
Special Issue on Addiction and Substance Abuse – Science Journal of Public Health (SJPH)

Lead Guest Editor - Ikenna Molobe, Co-founder/Director, Unified Initiative for a Drug-Free Nigeria (UIFDFN)

Drug and substance abuse is a global health problem. The global situation of drug abuse reveals that the problem has become a major source of concern. The dearth of research in drug abuse and addiction is also a major source of concern. More especially there is lack of facts and finding in Africa and Nigeria in particular. The solution to drug situation cannot be achieved without research. Studies on issues of drugs and addiction are most neglected. Likewise, some research has been conducted but has not been accessed or made available to the public due to lack of publishing. In order to promote publication and access to researches on the issues of drugs and addiction, Mr. Ikenna Molobe, the Co-founder and Director of Unified Initiative for a Drug-Free Nigeria (UIFDFN) proposed a special issue research publication project on Addiction and Substance Abuse under the Science Journal of Public Health (SJPH) of the Science Publishing Group (SPG) USA. This project he implemented on the approval of his proposal and as the Lead Guest Editor of the Special Issue on Addiction and Substance Abuse, carried out the responsibility for inviting papers submissions, the reviews and quality of the whole Special Issue. The special issue was advertised through social media and drug abuse coalition networks around the world for a 6 months period, and web portal was opened for researchers to submit their work which passed through a professional peer review process for acceptance. Respectable scholars around the globe were also invited as Guest Editors for review process and advisory for review papers. The key objective of this project is to improve prevention, rehabilitation and treatment methodology through advanced research where original research papers are solicited in any aspect of innovative approach and findings as it relates to drug use and addiction. The published papers will also back facts and findings to support review of policies and implementation of interventions. The published papers have received many views which can be accessed on the following link: http://membership.sciencepublishinggroup.com/specialissue/specialissueinfo?specialissueid=251022&journalid=251

The Lead Guest Editor’s research paper on Sexual Behaviour and Abuse of Drugs among Urban Teenagers in Lagos was also part of the published papers in the special edition. The publishing project is expected to continue in editions as part of the initiative of the Ikenna Molobe, the co-founder/Director of Unified Initiative for a Drug-Free Nigeria (UIFDFN) in partnership with Science Journal of Public Health (SJPH) to encourage more research and publication on drugs and substance abuse.
 
Nairobi 2016 AidEx Confrerence
The conference was held between on 14th -15th at the Safari Park hotel. The meeting brought together representatives of the donor community, governmental, international non-governmental and local organizations. The theme was Localization and how local actors in the humanitarian sector can be more engaged in decision making as well as running their community led initiatives. Soberlife Mentorship Society was invited to the meeting due to the organization’s extensive outreach especially to the vulnerable youths, marginalized regions and very poor communities in Kenya, all done through volunteer basis.

paul
 
During Interactive and Partnerships Sessions, Soberlife shared its networking experience with WFAD which is keen on bringing small organizations into the lime-light by organizing and supporting Networking platforms where they can share their initiatives, successes and challenges and how they can address them through a united front.

This is way that donors as well as international organizations can support start-up initiatives to realize greater impacts in the society and hence achieve Localization and community empowerment.

Continuing Outreaches by Soberlife
Drug abuse still remains a real emerging threat  among the youth today. Kenya is one of the most at risk countries in terms of production and consumption of many drugs of abuse such as alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and of late, khat commonly known as miraa as well as Sheesha, a flavoured tobacco product. Consumption in Kenya is known to be more than the rest of East African countries combined. The country has also been mapped out as a key transit and destination point of hard drugs including heroin and cocaine. Soberlife has continued to carry out its prevention, awareness and mentorship sessions all over Kenya with a special focus to the vulnerable groups especially the youth.

Paul 2paul youth nairobi

Paul Mburu
Real Life Mentor, Soberlife
Action. Now. That will make a difference.
A position paper in support of a balanced and effective drug policy towards 2019
 
Member states and civil society organizations from all over the world should use the years leading up to the next milestone in 2019 for one thing: National and local action and policy implementation. We don’t need more words, documents or commissions now.
 
Action is what is missing.
 
The UNGASS Outcome Document offers an excellent strategy for a comprehensive, balanced and effective policy to reduce drug use and its related harm – if words are made into action.
 
Using the next three years for a continued struggle over words will not make any difference for those who suffer from drug use, directly or indirectly. Three years of evidence-based interventions will.
 
It is not true that everything has been tried and nothing works. Many interventions do work. The problem is that most of them are not used by governments. UNGASS 2016 should be the turning point. Action is also needed to achieve the ambitious targets in the Sustainable Development Goals.
 
The signatories to this appeal suggest the following priority areas for action till 2019 and beyond:
 
Focus on universal prevention: The first component of a comprehensive, balanced and effective drug policy is prevention. The UNODC International Standards on Drug Use Prevention offers a wide range of evidence-based primary prevention interventions. Prevention is effective, humane, cost-effective and empowering. Effective drug prevention will contribute to the reduction also in other social problems. Prevention solves problems before they ever occur.
 
Mobilize a million communities: Prevention efforts are even more effective when they are combined, when they interact and when they are implemented by local communities. This is where the people are, this is where social interaction takes place. UNGASS should invite local communities all over the world to join in a global wave of prevention. One million communities could be reached before 2019.
 
Use alternative measures: Several countries have already implemented an array of diversion programs instead of using incarceration or fines as reaction to minor drug offences, including dissuasion commissions, youth contracts, drug courts and rehabilitation programs for drug users. More countries should follow suit. Many of those programs have shown promising results. Experiences should be shared internationally.
 
Support alternative development: A development approach aimed at improving people’s quality of life is needed in order to mobilize local communities where coca, poppies or cannabis are produced. The most conflict-ridden countries in Latin America and Asia need support from the international community. Donor countries should secure increased funding for alternative development programs in the coming years and see this as a long-term commitment.
 
Offer treatment and rehabilitation programs: Based on a principle of non-discrimination, all people with drug use disorders must have access to a wide range of knowledge-based treatment approaches, rehabilitation and social reintegration programs. Such services must aim at maximizing the affected individuals’ possibility for recovery, including people around the users.
 
An action plan for essential medicines: UNODC and WHO should invite member states to develop an action plan for securing access to essential medicines with the aim to show tangible results already before 2019. Such access is one of the key objectives of the UN drug conventions. An action plan must identify unnecessary obstacles and interventions to remove them, as well as secure funding for these interventions.
 
Implement the principle of proportionality: Reactions to drug related offences must be in proportion to the crime committed. The drug conventions do not demand incarceration for drug users, rather they encourage prevention, treatment and rehabilitation as alternatives. Militarization of law enforcement and other inhumane and disproportionate approaches, including the use of capital punishment for drug-related offences, should be abolished as they are not in accordance with the spirit of UN conventions.
 
 
This statement is supported by an alliance of networks covering
more than 300 NGOs from all over the world:
 
Drug Policy Futures       European Cities Against Drugs    IOGT International
 
Smart Approaches to Marijuana  World Federation Against Drugs
 
Active – Sobriety, Friendship and Peace    Recovered Users Network
 
EURAD – A network for prevention, treatment and recovery
 
Actis – Norwegian Policy Network on Alcohol and Drugs
 
FORUT – Campaign for Development and Solidarity
 
The biggest meeting to discuss the world drug problem in nearly 20 years will start next week, the United Nations General Assembly Special Session, UNGASS.  

The agenda for the meetings, as well as the proposed outcome document and the list of side events can be found here. The discussion will be broadcasted so it is possible to follow it live here.

The Civil Society Task Force, CSTF, will host a Civil Society Forum the day before the UGNASS begins, April 18 from 10am to 1 am. The aim of the Forum is to present the findings of the CSTF global consultations with civil society, to provide valuable input on priorities and recommendations from grass-root organizations. More information and the full agenda for the Forum can be found here.

At the UNGASS WFAD is co-hosting two side events; 
  • The Social and Economic Advantages of investing in Recovery. Organized by San Patrignano, WFAD, Eurad, Recovered Users Network and ECAD, April 20 at 2.30 in Conference room B
  • Alternative Legal Regimes for Cannabis: what are the Public Health and Society Impacts. Organized by Community Alliance for Drug Free Youth, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, WFAD and ECAD, April 21, 5.30 in Conference room B.

One of the most important issues that we have identified to be addressed at the UNGASS meeting is the need to put words into action, and we are not alone on this. The statement below that we will shared at UNGASS is supported by an alliance of networks covering more than 300 NGOs from all over the world.

Action. Now. That will make a difference. A position paper in support of a balanced and effective drug policy towards 2019

59th Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Joint NGO Statement by:
Active - Sobriety, Friendship and Peace, World Federation Against Drugs, IOGT International, Ungdomens Nykterhetsförbund (UNF), San Patrignano, Proslavi Oporavak - Celebrate Recovery, Stijena, EURAD, Swedish National Association for a Drug-Free Society, Preporod, Restart, Turkish Green Crescent, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Uganda Youth Development Link , Forut, ECAD Soberlife Mentorship Society, People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance

Together, we are representing more than 300 NGOs working on grass-roots, national, regional and global level in various activities, projects and advocacy initiatives connected to prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. 

We would like to use this opportunity to deliver feedback and recommendations for the final outcome document and specifically address youth and prevention.

We welcome that the Member States put focus on prevention and reaffirm the dedication to prevent the abuse of drugs. We strongly support the vision of a society free of drug abuse as the desired outcome for drug policies and interventions. We need to have high ambitions, as with the recently adopted Agenda 2030, uniting member states with a vision of a better world and aim at ending poverty in all its forms, everywhere. Similar ambitions can be found in areas such as traffic deaths, HIV/AIDS, and over the past years also around tobacco.

The Conventions should be the cornerstones of the international drug control system, in full conformity with human rights. We want to stress that neither the legalization of cannabis nor the militarization of law enforcement as well as policies that disregard human rights and disproportional use of punishment, or other inhumane approaches in treatment are in line with the Conventions. All these matters should be addressed by UNGASS.

In this regard, one of our concerns in the current debate are the developments with regards to the legalization of cannabis. This is done in opposition to the conventions and we see this as threatening the international cooperation.

We call on Member States to make sure that the use of cannabis for medical use is done according to national regulatory framework on approval of new medicines, based on scientific review. We also request Member States to reiterate their commitment to the conventions, also in connection with the debate about the legal status of cannabis.

We would also like to remind the state parties about the consequences that this current trend of legalizing drugs will have on less developed countries. Rich countries are failing to find resources to address their drug problem and care for their children and their poor - we cannot expect that less developed countries will find the resources. The world’s poorest communities are the most vulnerable to the harms of drug use and trade, they will not be able to regulate the marketing or collect taxes from drug sales, simply because there are no taxes to collect.

We want to emphasize prevention, early intervention, treatment, and recovery as the way forward. To deny the addictive potential of cannabis or negative mental health effects is to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence available today. Our experience tells us that we should not welcome with open arms a new industry – like Big Tobacco – which will focus on commercializing and increasing the use of a drug far more potent today than it has ever been.

We need to prevent drug use, not promote it.

We would also like to share some of the best practices, challenges and recommendations identified by some of our members, in their capacity as members of the Civil Society Task Force, in the spheres of prevention and youth. We hope they can serve as an input for the Member States' important deliberations towards the UNGASS preparations.

With regards to the youth consultation in the CSTF, coordinated by Active, we would like to emphasize that young people call for policies with public health and youth and children’s rights at its core.

The online youth survey reached 71 organizations and 269 individuals from all over the world. As one of the outcomes, youth organizations’ preferred policy approach in these consultations was supporting civil society in creating free, safe and inclusive environments for young people, facilitating mobility, well-being and non-formal learning.

In the experience of the grass-root organization Ungdomens Nykterhetsförbund from Sweden,prevention work through offering quality leisure time activities that are free of charge and conducted in safe and drug-free environments,  have proven to result in fewer young people trying drugs, using drugs and getting addicted. These activities help children and young people in developing life skills, gaining motivation and empower them to active participation in society. Such protective social factors, as well as the social and economic empowerment, have proven to prevent initiation of drug use among children and young people.
 
With regards to the consultation on prevention, after a challenging and extensive process of obtaining the views of different actors from the civil society, the final outcome showed that prevention is identified as one of the most important aspects to prioritize in order to solve the world drug problem. There is a strong opinion that prevention needs to be discussed more. More importantly, we also need to move beyond words and implement the best practices we are praising at the local level. The use of illicit drugs is a health problem that can and should be prevented, for many reasons; one being that it is cost effective.

The most common best practices, that would allow for easier implementation of prevention policies are:

ü  Knowing the local conditions: “doing good” is simply not enough, we need to know the local preconditions and do activities that are relevant and based on evidence or best practices.

ü  Importance of family and community: We need to work with both the community and the family in prevention work. Many organizations are working with strengthening the capacity of parents, both in the west and in the global south.

ü  Involving youth: The need to involve youth both in the planning and implementation of the prevention activities is stressed. They are the experts in the area and have important information and input on how we can better reach them and adapt our message, both where they want to be reached and how the message could be formulated.

ü  Cooperation:  There was a stressed need for, and the possibility of, increased cooperation and coordination between actors and sectors. This would enable better use of existing resources and could be part of the solution of the scarce resources that are seen as a challenge. 

Some of the main challenges in the implementation of prevention policies :

ü  Lack of data: Best practices should include knowing the local conditions when planning a prevention activity. However, in many areas of the world data is lacking, which is a challenge for organizations planning prevention activities. There is a need for quantitative and qualitative data on the use of drugs and the dynamics behind initiation of drug use. This is especially stressed from responses from the global south.

ü  Negative influence of media and culture: The influence of media and culture with a more positive attitude towards drugs is mentioned as a way of normalizing drugs and a challenge.

ü  Prevention activities towards marginalized groups: One issue of concern is the special needs of children growing up in marginalized areas, such as the slum areas or other areas affected by poverty and social exclusion. The need to connect the World Drug Problem to poverty is being raised. There is also a sense of neglect in this area of the world. Organizations are asking for answers on how we can better support children growing up in slums, with high rate of addiction among the adults, to break the vicious circle and its future consequences.

ü  Availability of treatment: Another important challenge is to close the gap between the need and the availability of treatment, especially in poor areas.

ü  Selected interventions: It was highlighted that we need to develop our capability to identify risks and our answers to intervene early to interrupt drug use. Civil Society has different ways of reaching young people of risk, some use the Criminal Justice System and others see it as a hinder. 

We will conclude with the most important point, raised from people working at the grass-root level. The Global Drug Policy needs to be implemented, a policy will not make any difference without a plan for implementation and resources. The importance is not the outcome paper as such, but what happens afterwards. The question is if this will be an academic and diplomatic exercise, or lead to real improvements for people.

We therefore urge you to take the necessary steps,  in Vienna and in your home country, and to write the outcome document specific enough so that we from the civil society can demand and push you to take action. I ensure you that we are willing and ready to do so.

We look forward to working with civil society partners and governments in improving the realities in drug policies on all levels. 

 

 

At the 59th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs WFAD arranged, together with Active, Uganda Youth Development Link and African Youth Initiative on Crime Prevention, a side event called: Voices from the youth - protect the future. The event aimed to bring African Youth Voices to the CND to show effective prevention models and how NGOs are working to protect children in accordance with the Rights of the Child to be protected against illicit drugs. Below you can find the statement form Brother Paul Mburu form the organization Soberlife Mentorship Society, an organization working in the slums of Nairobi, given at the side event.

Ladies and Gentlemen, greetings this afternoon,

It is my honour to present my humble contribution to this side event today. My presence here was made possible by the World Federation against Drugs and I thank Linda here on behalf of the organization. My name is Brother Paul as I am usually identified in the communities where I work. I represent a small grass-root initiative called the Soberlife Mentorship Society based in Nairobi Kenya.

Before I give my submission, I wish to share in this forum a portion of my life which is the basis of my contribution in this session.

2016 is a highlight year for me. It marks exactly ten years since I last smoked the last marijuana roll, mixed with lethally intoxicating liquors. For the decade I had been in addiction, this is a summary of what I went through:
  • Running away from home due to conflicts with the family
  • Wasting six full years of education between high school and college
  • Engaging in crime and peddling with friends some of whom died or were banished in prisons. I too was remanded but later given a pardon.
  • Continuous use led to extreme health effects including mild tuberculosis, hallucinations and dread. Some of the effects still linger today.
  • Due to the emptiness within me and a search for identity, I joined the Nyahyabingi Rastafarian Movement whose paradise is in Shashamane Ethiopia. I reared dreadlocks in accordance to the requirements and also increased consumption of weed.
  • Finally, when everything failed to give the liberty from the chains of addiction and the risks I was exposed to, I decided to end my life on the 10th of August 2006 through poison ingestion.

I believe I did not die but have lived to tell this forum the great calamity haunting your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and humanity at large. While listening to the many presentations going on in the greater Conference, it seems there is a deliberate attempt to pull the people of this world and youth in particular into opinions and lifestyles that are absolutely contrary to their needs.

Within the Kenyan context there are four major issues which I will share as being most important. This was also presented to the CSTF regional meeting which was held in Nairobi and was purely based on the social, economic and cultural realities of our region.

  • Comprehensive prevention initiatives to be formulated and implemented targeting the pre teenage, teenage and early youth groups, the population at the highest risk of initiation or those in the early initiation into drugs. Primary prevention remains and will remain the only sure way of dealing with drugs. We stand for complete harm deterrence through prevention against the so-called harm reduction which we know does not reduce any harm. It is a means of more harm generation through encouraging ‘clean methods’ for drug users to ensure sustainability of their habits. Offering clean syringes for instance does not make injection drugs clean. And more so, in the African reality, HIV/AIDS is more than 70% spread through risky sexual behaviours and not shared syringes use.
  • Treatment and comprehensive rehabilitation for those already affected by the habit. In this perspective, CSOs to advocate to their respective governments to establish affordable rehabilitation facilities or work with private institutions to ensure services are accessible to all. This should be expanded to hospitals, prisons and juvenile centres where most of the users are found. These should be made corrective centres that can help bring a behaviour change to those who are affected. Clear punishment should be outlined with severe consequences on producers and traffickers. 
  • Re-integration of recovery and recovered people back in the community. This is in two phases: Carrying out an awareness in the community of origin of those affected by drugs to be ready to accommodate the ones being re-integrated by creating a stigma free environment. On the other hand, those being re-integrated to be empowered economically through creation of investment opportunities to enable them be engaged, motivated and avoid the risks of easy relapse. Youth empowerment programs must be at the heart of every African government to realize any development and sustainability of the State.
  • There should be a review of the family institution and emphasis on stable families. It is universally acknowledged that the family is the single most important institution in shaping up individuals. As we speak about ‘juvenile delinquency’ we should also spend time speaking on parental delinquency. The African society is currently facing a generation conflict emerging from 1970s parents who were born in the traditional, religious and morally conservative conditions against the 1990s generation of children born in the new world order of rights, liberties and technologies. This has created a huge social conflict, causing many parents to disregard children at their hour of great need while children, left without their primary mentors turn to rebellion and juvenile lifestyles. The problem has also been aggravated by absentee fathers whom children need especially boys entering teenage years.
  • Parenting skills within the acceptable social, political and cultural backgrounds of the African must be strengthened in order to bring up responsible youth who will shun influences and challenges, not only on drug use but other issues such as esteem, sexuality and general development.

Soberlife Mentorship Society stands for every effort and strategy that promotes primary prevention, care, rehabilitation, recovery and re-integration.

We have a duty to protect the society from all forms of enticements and intimidations that are only meant to enrich a clique of people while destroying humanity’s most essential investment; the youth. For those who mean well, let’s join hands in this great initiative regardless of our backgrounds or limited resources; and let the passion to mentor and make a lasting impact to the youth be our driving gear.



Thank you

Opening statement, Sven-Olov Carlsson, International President, WFAD

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
 
Welcome to the 5th World Forum Against Drugs – this time to be held in Vienna.
 
Alcohol is the world’s third leading cause of ill health and premature death, with an impact greater than tobacco. Alcohol is well accepted as a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs); there is a strong link between alcohol and several non-communicable diseases, particularly cancer, cardiovascular disease, liver disease, pancreatitis and diabetes. Alcohol is also associated with several infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and pneumonia.
 
Resolutions from the UN General Assembly as well as WHO World Health Assembly support the notion of the importance of the general level of alcohol consumption for the health problems caused by alcohol. That there is a relationship between adult per capita consumption and excessive or heavy consumption of alcohol is well established by several, independent scientific evaluations.
 
In a review of the evidence for the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of policies to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, published in The Lancet 2009, the authors (Anderson et al) state, “Ecologically there is a very close link between a country’s total alcohol per head consumption and its prevalence of alcohol-related harm and alcohol dependence, implying that when alcohol consumption increases, so does alcohol-related harm and the proportion of people with alcohol dependence and vice versa.

In Alcohol: No Ordinary Commodity (second edition 2010), the authors, Babor et. al, state that “there is a strong relationship between the total consumption of alcohol in a population and the prevalence of people who are heavy drinkers. However, when total consumption increases, it is not only the consumption of heavy drinkers that increase, the consumption tends to increase in all consumer groups.” Further, drawing on decades of research, the authors state:
 
The research establishes beyond doubt that public health measures of proven effectiveness are available to serve the public good by reducing the widespread costs and pain related to alcohol use.
 
To that end, it is appropriate to deploy responses that influence both the total amount of alcohol consumed by a population and the high-risk contexts and drinking behaviors that are so often associated with alcohol-related problems. To conceive of these intrinsically complementary approaches as contradictory alternatives would be a mistake.

It is clear, in my view, that in order for an alcohol policy to be effective, it must aim for reductions in per capita alcohol consumption. I believe that the same is true for an effective drug policy; it too must aim to reduce drug use.
 
Reducing consumption of alcohol is seen by the most enlightened leaders of the field of substance abuse to be smart and in the public interest whereas in drug policy, many of these same leaders view the goal of reducing illegal drug use to be unwise, reactionary, and moralistic.
 
The World Federation Against Drugs (WFAD) is not ambivalent on the goal of reducing drug use as the first priority of drug policy.
 
WFAD focuses on reducing both use of drugs and use of alcohol.
 
Unlike WFAD, many substance abuse policy experts do not view reducing nonmedical and illegal drug use as a primary goal of drug policy. That viewpoint is a huge problem.
 
Why does this double standard exist on the primary goal of drug policy compared to alcohol policy?
 
In both alcohol policy and drug policy, many experts view coercion to stop use as troubling. I am less troubled by using reasonable coercion in the interest of public health.
 
For example, we ask why substance abuse programs should not insist that alcoholics stop drinking and drug addicts stop drug use, in both treatment and in the criminal justice system?
 
Why shouldn’t this no-use standard be enforced for children for whom the use of both alcohol and drugs is illegal? Why not have parents and schools insist that children be drug-free?

reject the view that the crucial drug policy choice in the world today is between effective policies to reduce drug use and effective policies that reduce drug-related “harm.”
 
I support both goals. I see them working together and not in conflict.
 
However, our support of many of the harm reduction ideas in drug policy is tempered by the fact that many of these policies encourage drug use, such as tolerating continued drug use while patients are in drug abuse treatment.
 
Under the label of “harm reduction,” some countries in Europe now permit “drug consumption rooms” where the use of illicit drugs by addicts is sanctioned.
 
The European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) have estimated that 60 drug consumption rooms exist in 36 cities across Europe, though that number has increased since. Drug consumption rooms are not exclusive to specific drugs.

A report promoting drug consumption rooms in Germany explained that the 12 drug consumption rooms in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia included 97 spaces for individuals to use drugs with 31 dedicated to inhalation consumption.
 
I ask, “Would anyone refer family members or friends to a drug consumption room whether for injection or inhalation of drugs?”
 
To me, the answer is clearly “No.”
 
The goal in helping a loved one with a substance use problem is not to reduce their use. It is to stop drug use.
 
This is a goal for which some harm reduction strategies do not strive.
 
Recently, a similar harm reduction strategy has been applied to alcoholics, providing them with “wet houses” so they can drink all they want without going out into the community where they could cause or experience “harm.”
 
I reject harm reduction policies and programs that encourage continued use of alcohol and other drugs for people with substance use disorders.
 
A false choice being widely trumpeted today in drug policy is between treatment and jail.
 
In my view, there is no conflict in drug policy between supporting substance abuse treatment and supporting the role of the criminal justice system in both supply reduction and demand reduction.
 
Rather, I encourage better linkage between health and criminal justice.
 
I encourage making full use of the potentials of both treatment and the criminal justice system to achieve ambitious public health goals together that neither can achieve alone.
 
These shared goals for offender populations include reducing alcohol and drug use, reducing criminal recidivism, and reducing incarceration.
 
There is a new paradigm of programs that deliver on these goals. This new paradigm is based on the zero tolerance standard that is enforced by random monitoring for any use of alcohol or other drugs linked to swift, certain, but not draconian, consequences.
 
This new paradigm that does not tolerate continued substance use has shown dramatic benefits to both public health and public safety.
 
So, to summarize World Federation Against Drugs supports the following principles to serve as a platform for the drug policy debate:
  • Drug policies should prevent initiation of drug use.
  • Drug policies must respect human rights (for users and non-users alike) as well as the principle of proportionality.
  • Drug policies should strike a balance of efforts to reduce the use of drugs and the supply of drugs.
  • Drug policies should protect children from drug use.
  • Drug policies should ensure access to medical help, treatment and recovery services.
  • Drug policies should ensure access to controlled drugs for legitimate scientific and medical purposes.
  • Drug policies should ensure that medical and judicial responses are coordinated with the goal of reducing drug use and drug-related consequences.
The best strategy for the future of drug policy is to find improved, cost-effective policies that are compatible with modern values that reduce drug use and also reduce the harms produced by this use – policies that link treatment to the criminal justice system and policies that discourage both alcohol and drug use.
 
I think the balanced approach in alcohol policy supported by many public health experts is a good model for the drug field – both reducing per capita consumption and promoting “harm reduction” when the “harm reduction” does not conflict with the goal of reducing consumption.
 
I encourage everyone interested in substance use policy to evaluate their approaches to both alcohol policy and drug policy and ensure that their goals support the public health, beginning with an overarching goal of reducing use both in individuals and in the society as a whole.
 
There are at least three false premises for legalization;

The first false premise is that The Criminalization of Drugs Does Fuel the HIV/AIDS Epidemic. It does not.
 
The prohibition of illegal drug use does not encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS. Rather it reduces illegal drug use among HIV/AIDS patients, as well as the non-infected population thereby reducing the population vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection by contaminated needles.
 
Illegal drug use exacerbates weaknesses of the immune system, making individuals with AIDS more susceptible to infection and death. Marijuana use causes impaired immunity and opens the door for the virus that causes Kaposi’s Sarcoma, life-threatening for individuals with HIV/AIDS. Marijuana also contains bacteria and fungi that put users at risk for infection.
 
Illegal drug use among AIDS patients is life threatening because these drugs lessen the effectiveness of anti-retroviral (ARV) medications.
 
Nonmedical drug use is associated with increased risky sexual behaviors, which promote transmission of HIV/AIDS in a way that needle exchange cannot prevent.
 
The second false premise is that the Criminal Justice System and the Public Health System are Conflicting Approaches to Drug Policy. They are not.
 
The Criminal Justice System and the Public Health System Are Complementary and Not Conflicting Approaches to Drug Policy.
 
Prevention and treatment are programs that promote public safety and public health. “Harm reduction” tolerates, and thus perpetuates, nonmedical drug use.
 
“Harm reduction” seeks to reduce the “harm” caused by nonmedical drug use without stopping the use itself.
 
Defining the roles of the criminal justice system in reducing illegal drug use as unreasonable or inhumane and defining illegal drug use as a “human right” are as sensible as defining drunk driving as a protected human right and its enforcement as an inhumane waste of resources.
 
Substance abuse prevention and treatment work to stop nonmedical drug use. Making nonmedical drug use as a crime is an important public health strategy that reduces many of the “harms” produced by illegal drug use.
 
To promote public health and public safety and to support a balanced restrictive drug policy that uses the criminal justice system, and the illegal status of nonmedical drug use, to reinforce both prevention and treatment. The current globally-endorsed balanced drug abuse prevention policy can be improved.
 
The challenge of future drug policy is to find ways to encourage the legal and justice systems to work better together with prevention and treatment to achieve goals that neither can do alone.
 
Treatment systems can work together with the criminal justice system by incorporating new, effective and evidence-based strategies to reduce illegal drug use among criminal offenders. These approaches also reduce the commission of new crimes and associated incarceration.
 
The third false premise is that Major Costs of illegal Drug Use are generated by the criminal justice system itself. It is not.
 
The greatest costs of illegal drug use are not generated by criminal justice system but by the nonmedical drug use itself.
 
The costs include not only sickness and death but also reduced productivity and the high healthcare costs generated by illegal drug use.
 
The future of an improved drug policy is not to legalize intoxicating, abusable drugs, including marijuana.
 
It is in the development of a balanced, restrictive drug policy that prevents drug use, and that intervenes with drug users to provide them with a path to life-long recovery.
 
Instead of legalizing drugs, an enlightened drug policy can harness the criminal justice system to thwart drug markets, facilitate entry into treatment and restrict incarceration to egregious offenders.
 
The criminal law against illegal drug use is a major public health strategy to reduce drug abuse and the many health, safety and productivity losses imposed by drug abuse.
 
These are the elements of a successful drug policy. This drug policy makes clear that drug use is unacceptable.
 
With this I declare the 5th World Forum Against Drugs for opened.
 
Thank you for your attention!

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