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    25 March 2011

    Grass-roots Organizations Indispensable for Creating Healthy Societies Says Executive Director

    VIENNA, 25 March (UN Information Service) - Enlisting the support of activists voicing the full spectrum of views on drugs issues, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov stressed the importance of community and grass-roots initiatives in preventing drug use.

    "Drug control is not all about governments and law enforcement; it is also about families, teachers, youth leaders and mentors. Prevention starts with a community that cares about the vulnerable." Hearing the concerns of the groups, Mr. Fedotov said that community-level action must be stepped up. "Think globally, act locally," he urged.

    Mr Fedotov said he welcomed dialogue with all parties, including those who assert differences of opinion. However, he stressed: "Let us not argue on the key issue - there are people who need treatment."

    He praised those who quietly went about their work away from the media spotlight: "You are the unsung heroes of society. Sometimes all a person needs is a chance and a helping hand. Your support and encouragement can make a profound difference to people in despair," he said.

    The Executive Director said that this sort of cooperation could enable a valuable exchange of ideas and experiences. UNODC is developing evidence-based family skills training, drug education to build up life skills and self-esteem to prevent substance use among children and teenagers, and programmes to address substance abuse in the workplace.

    "Together, we can work towards effective community problem-solving strategies, teaching them how to assess their local substance abuse-related problems and develop a comprehensive plan to address them. We need to know what makes some people vulnerable to addiction," said Mr. Fedotov. "So I intend to broaden consultation with all members of society - from policy-makers to home-makers."

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