Learn what governments commited to in 1995: The World Programme of Action for Youth on Drug Abuse (A/RES/50/81)
F. Drug abuse
73. The vulnerability of young people to drug abuse has in recent years become a major concern. The consequences of widespread drug abuse and trafficking, particularly for young men and women, are all too apparent. Violence, particularly street violence, often results from drug abuse and illicit drug networks.
74. As the number of psychotropic drugs increases steadily and their effects and appropriate prescriptive uses are often not fully known, some patients may not be adequately treated and others may become over-medicated. Abuse of prescription drugs, self-medication with tranquillizers, sleeping-pills and stimulants can also create serious problems, particularly in countries and regions where distribution controls are weak and habit-forming drugs are purchased abroad or diverted from licit channels of distribution. In this context, the vulnerability of young people raises a particular problem and specific measures are therefore needed.
75. The international community places particular emphasis on reducing the demand for and supply of illegal drugs and preventing abuse. Supply reduction includes combating international illicit drug trafficking. Drug abuse prevention initiatives range from discouraging people from taking drugs, thus preventing involuntary addiction, to helping those who are abusing drugs to stop doing so. Treatment programmes need to recognize that drug abuse is a chronic relapsing condition. It is essential for programmes to be adapted to the social and cultural context and for there to be effective cooperation between various approaches to treatment. To this end, national initiatives and measures to combat illicit drug trafficking should be fully supported and reinforced at the regional and international levels.
76. Drug control strategies at the national and international levels consistently emphasize initiatives aimed at reducing drug abuse among young people. This is reflected in the resolutions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and in the demand reduction programmes of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme.
Proposals for action
1. Participation of youth organizations and youth in demand reduction programmes for young people
77. To be effective, demand reduction programmes should be targeted at all young people, particularly those at risk, and the content of the programmes should respond directly to the interests and concerns of those young people. Preventive education programmes showing the dangers of drug abuse are particularly important. Increasing opportunities for gainful employment and activities which provide recreation and opportunities to develop a variety of skills are important in helping young people to resist drugs. Youth organizations can play a key role in designing and implementing education programmes and individual counselling to encourage the integration of youth into the community, to develop healthy lifestyles and to raise awareness of the damaging impact of drugs. The programmes could include training of youth leaders in communication and counselling skills.
78. Government entities, in cooperation with relevant agencies of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations, particularly youth organizations, should cooperate in carrying out demand reduction programmes for illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
2. Training medical and paramedical students in the rational use of pharmaceuticals containing narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances
79. The World Health Organization, associations of the medical, paramedical and pharmaceutical professions and pharmaceutical corporations and medical faculties and institutions could be asked to develop model training courses and disseminate information material for young medical and paramedical students on the proper handling of drugs and the early identification and diagnosis of substance abuse.
3. Treatment and rehabilitation of young people who are drug abusers or drug-dependent and young alcoholics and tobacco users
80. Research has been undertaken into the possibility of identifying medication to block cravings for specific drugs without creating secondary dependency, but much remains to be done in this area. The need for medical and social research in the prevention and treatment of substance abuse as well as rehabilitation, has become more urgent, particularly with the world-wide increase in abuse and addiction among young people. In such research, emphasis should be given to the fact that intravenous substance abuse raises the risk of contracting communicable diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, arising from the sharing of needles and other injection equipment. The fruits of all such research should be shared globally.
81. Research on issues such as the medical treatment and the rehabilitation of young drug abusers, including the combination of different types of treatment, the problem of recidivism and the administrative aspects of drug treatment, and the inclusion of students in the relevant faculties in such research, should be encouraged.
82. In cooperation with the institutions of civil society and the private sector, drug abuse prevention should be promoted, as should preventive education for children and youth and rehabilitation and education programmes for former drug and alcohol addicts, especially children and youth, in order to enable them to obtain productive employment and achieve the independence, dignity and responsibility for a drug-free, crime-free productive life. Of particular interest is the development of treatment techniques involving the family setting and peer groups. Young people can make significant contributions by participating in peer group therapy to facilitate the acceptance of young drug-dependent persons and abusers upon their re-entry into society. Direct participation in rehabilitation therapy entails close cooperation between youth groups and other community and health services. The World Health Organization and other world-wide medical and mental health organizations could be requested to set guidelines for continuing research and for carrying out comparable programmes in different settings, whose effectiveness could be evaluated over a given period of time. 4. Care for young drug abusers and drug-dependent suspects and offenders in the criminal justice and prison system
83. Authorities should consider strategies to prevent exposure to drug abuse and dependence among young people suspected or convicted of criminal offences. Such strategies could include alternative measures, such as daily reporting to police stations, regular visits to parole officers or the fulfilment of a specified number of hours of community service.
84. Prison authorities should cooperate closely with law enforcement agencies to keep drugs out of the prison system. Prison personnel should be discouraged from tolerating the presence of drugs in penal institutions.
85. Young prisoners who are already drug-dependent should be targeted as priority candidates for treatment and rehabilitation services and should be segregated as appropriate. Guidelines and standard minimum rules should be prepared to assist national authorities in law enforcement and prison systems in maintaining the necessary controls and initiating treatment and rehabilitation services. Action along these lines constitutes a long-term advantage to society, as the cycle of dependence, release, repeated offences and repeated incarcerations constitutes a heavy burden on the criminal justice system, quite apart from the wasted lives and personal tragedies which result from drug dependence and criminal behaviour.