Global drug policy has been a hot button topic in recent weeks, with the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs (UNGASS) ending April 21, 2016. While nations differed on how to handle both drug addiction and trafficking, it would appear that not much is going to change on how we, as a society, move forward despite a call for a more humanitarian approach. About 246 million people engage in illicit drug use, and 1 in 10 of them have a substance use disorder, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
It probably comes as little surprise to hear that the United States is on top of the list regarding drug use, The Los Angeles Times reports. The nations with the highest rates of adult illicit drug use in the last year, include:
- United States (19 percent)
- Australia (14.7 percent)
- Spain (14.4 percent)
- Canada (13.4 percent)
- Israel ( 11.4 percent)
Despite the fact that America tops the list, we differ on how we handle addiction. Unlike other countries where illicit drug use is less of a problem, both U.S. lawmakers, law enforcement and health officials realize that we can no longer take the draconian “war on drugs” approach that we have since President Nixon declared war in the 1970’s.
At the special session, Michael Botticelli, Director of the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy, said “law enforcement efforts should focus on criminal organizations — not on people with substance use disorders who need treatment and recovery support services,” according to the Associated Press. Unfortunately, the UN special session was essentially over before it started, seeing as member nations had agreed on an “outcome document” before the debate even began.
The outcome document stuck to the age old policy of banning all recreational narcotics and criminalizing their use, The Wall Street Journal reports. Worldwide, suffering from the disease of addiction continues to be illegal, which means addicts will still be imprisoned for the illness.
“The declaration is long and rhetoric and very short on substance. It’s out of step with world sentiment and doubles down on status quo,” said Richard Branson, head of the Virgin Group and a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.
While it was unfortunate that the special session was essentially over before it began, it is important that the conversations about addiction continue. It is one of the only ways we will move away from stigma, and get help for those suffering from addiction rather than prison bars.
Working to move away from the stigma at Family Recovery Specialists we offer adolescent and adult substance abuse counselors, treatment and consulting in Miami, Florida. We work to treat the unique needs of those who suffer from substance abuse and addiction. Our highly individualized and comprehensive approach to treatment can help you or a loved one break free from the devastating effects of substance abuse and addiction.