25 June 2003
TALKING ABOUT DRUGS ESSENTIAL TO BREAKING SILENCE,
NEW YORK, 25 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 26 June 2003:
The theme for this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, “Let’s talk about drugs”, sums up the best starting point for tackling any problem: recognizing that it exists and speaking openly about it. An estimated 200 million people worldwide use illicit drugs. That translates into 4.7 per cent of the global population aged over 14. Those figures are alarming enough in themselves. But the effects of drug abuse go far beyond the individuals concerned and cause incalculable harm to society in health, social and economic terms -- including the spread of HIV.
"Let's talk about drugs" underlines the need for children, families, peers, teachers and communities to talk about drug abuse, admit that it is a problem, and take responsibility for doing something about it. The support of caring and listening parents has proven to be one of the most important protective factors against drug abuse. But for the many young people around the world who do not have the advantage of a supportive home environment, we all have a special responsibility.
Drug abuse is often a result of underlying problems or a symptom of a broader malaise. It is, therefore, important to talk about addressing the potential causes, and not just the abuse in isolation. Talking about drugs is the only way to break the silence, stigma and exclusion that surround people who are drug-dependent, and that only make the problem worse. Talking openly is also essential if we are to tackle the problem early and avoid it becoming a chronic condition.
Today’s International Day against Drug Abuse is a reminder to all of us to play our part. The United Nations is here to assist you in this fight. The drug programme of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has a vast amount of useful information available at www.unodc.org to help us all talk about drugs.
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