7 September 2006

UN Drugs Chief Praises Swedish Drug Control Model

VIENNA, 7 September (UN Information Service) - The Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, said today that Sweden's successful drug control policies were a model which other countries could learn much from.

Launching a UNODC report entitled Sweden's Successful Drug Policy: A Review of the Evidence, he said drug use in Sweden was just a third of the European average while spending on drug control was three times the EU average.

"Societies have the drug problem that they deserve," Mr. Costa said. "In Sweden's case, the commitment to prevention, law enforcement, demand reduction and treatment over the past thirty years has made a significant difference."

Mr. Costa said those who doubted the effectiveness of drug control should look at Sweden's experience, which was useful not only for showing that drug control is possible, but how and why.

The report shows that amphetamine use in Sweden was high in the 1950s when such stimulants were readily available. Overall drug use rose in the second half of the 1960s during a period of rather liberal drug policies but declined strongly in the 1970s and the 1980s due to progressively tightening drug control. Drug use rose again in the 1990s due to budget cuts, unemployment and growing drug supplies but has followed a clear downward trend since 2001 as a result of a National Action Plan,  the establishment of a National Drug Coordinator and improved funding.

Mr. Costa praised the culture of drug abuse prevention and treatment in Sweden.  "Long-term and cohesive policies, backed up by sufficient funding and the support of civil society, have proven vital for success," he said.

He stressed the strong correlation between the Swedish Government's special efforts to target cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants and an over-all reduction in drug use. "The lessons of Sweden's drug control history should be learned by others," said Mr. Costa.

Sweden's Minister for Public Health and Social Services, Morgan Johansson, said: "I am very proud that the report commends Sweden as a successful example. But this doesn't mean that we have won the fight against drugs. The work must continue, every day. Preventive measures are necessary.  We also have to improve rehabilitation for people with drug abuse problems."

The UNODC Executive Director praised Sweden's efforts to promote international drug control and thanked the country for its support for UNODC. "When it comes to drug control, Sweden practises what it preaches. It is a driving force in ensuring implementation of international drug control targets."

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For information contact:

Richard Murphy
Spokesman, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 5761
E-mail: richard.murphy@unodc.org