9 April 2003

At Mini-Forum on "Alternative Methods in the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Addictions" UNODC Executive Director, A.M. Costa, Paid Tribute to NGOs

VIENNA, 10 April (UN Headquarters) -- A Mini-Forum, entitled "Alternative Methods in the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Addictions", took place on 9 April 2003 at the Vienna International Centre. It was the first of two fora organized by the Vienna NGO Committee on Narcotic Drugs in connection with the forty-sixth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND).

The initiative re-emphasized the need to promote partnerships with NGOs at a time when the international community is taking stock of its achievements and identifying further action required to meet its 2008 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) targets.

Three NGOs from Austria, Germany and Hungary highlighted the success of using sports, animals and theatre as complementing therapies for recovering addicts. Activities, such as mountain climbing and soccer, helped individuals who were undergoing treatment to develop the physical, psychological and social skills needed to facilitate recovery.

Dr. Thomas Legl, Chairman, NGO Committee, and a former director at Grüner Kreis Therapeutic Community in Austria, emphasized that the contact between people and animals filled the emotional void experienced by many individuals seeking treatment. Playing with and taking care of animals reduced fears of developing relations and close ties, and such interaction between addicts and animals therefore constituted an important part of therapy.

Mr. Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of UNODC, addressed the forum and congratulated the Vienna NGO Committee on their initiative. He paid tribute to those NGOs around the world which were committed to "action" and not just "words". "To assist drug addicts is a tremendous commitment to life," he said.

The forum ended with a theatrical performance by members of the Leo Amici Foundation, a drug-rehabilitation institution based in Hungary. Eight members of the group, who were former drug users, were able to overcome their problem by incorporating drama and music into their recovery programme.

The event was followed by the opening of an exhibition to commemorate the Vienna NGO Committee's twentieth anniversary.

The Mini-Forum was attended by members of the NGO community, CND delegates and UNOV staff.

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