Anti-drugs Campaign Who fights the drugs? The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is a United Nations agency that was originally founded in 1997 as the Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention , then renamed as UNODC in October 2002. The UNODC was established to assist the UN in better addressing a coordinated, comprehensive response to the interrelated issues of illicit trafficking in and abuse of drugs, crime prevention and criminal justice, international terrorism, and corruption. These goals are pursued through three primary functions: research, guidance and support to governments in the adoption and implementation of various crime-, drug-, terrorism-, and corruption-related conventions, treaties and protocols, as well as technical/financial assistance to said governments to face their respective situations and challenges in these fields.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
The agency, employing about 500 staff members worldwide, is headquartered in Vienna, with 21 field offices and a New York City liaison office. The agency is led by an Executive Director appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General. Presently, that position is filled by Antonio Maria Costa, an Italian native who also holds the position of Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna. The long-term aims of the office are to better equip governments to handle drug-, crime-, terrorism-, and corruption-related issues, maximise knowledge on these issues among governmental institution and agencies, and also to maximise awareness of said matters in public opinion, globally, nationally and at community level. Approximately 90% of the Office's funding comes from voluntary contributions, mainly from governments.
More people are abusing drugs today than in any other time in history, and many of those people are youth. The connection between youth and drug abuse raises several questions, like: Why are young people at risk of drug abuse? Why do young people use drugs? What is wrong with doing drugs when people have been doing them for centuries? We will try and answer some of these questions, but we need to start with the basics?
What are Drugs?
Understanding what drugs are is fundamental to understanding their potential abuse.
A psychoactive substance is something that people take to change the way they feel, think or behave. Some of these substances are called drugs, and others, like alcohol and tobacco, are considered dangerous but are not called drugs. The term drugs also covers a number of substances that must be used under medical supervision to treat illnesses.
In the past , most drugs were made from plants. That is, plants were grown and then converted into drugs such as coca paste, opium and marijuana . Over the years, these crude products were further processed to yield drugs like cocaine and heroin, and finally, in the 20th century , people found out how to make drugs from chemicals. These are called man-made, or synthetic, drugs and include speed , ecstasy , LSD , etc. These were initially manufactured for largely experimental reasons and only later were used for recreational purposes. Now, however, with the increased size and scope of the drug trade , people set out to invent drugs especially for recreational human consumption .
What's Wrong with Drug Abuse?
Substance abuse has many negative physiological health effects, ranging from minor issues like digestion problems or respiratory infections, to potentially fatal diseases, like AIDS and hepatitis C. Of course, the effects depend on the drug and on the amount, method and frequency of use. Some drugs are very addictive, like heroin, while others are less so. But the upshot is that regular drug abuse or sustained exposure to a drug - even for a short period of time - can cause physiological dependence, which means that when the person stops taking drugs, he/she experiences physical withdrawal symptoms and a craving for the drug.
Drug abuse also causes brain damage. Again, depending on the drug, the strength and character of this damage varies. But one thing is clear, drug abuse affects the way the brain functions and alters its responses to the world. That is what psychoactive means, after all, something that acts on your brain. How drug abuse will affect your behaviour, actions, feelings and motivations is unpredictable. By meddling in the natural ways the brain functions, abusers exposes themselves to risks they may not even have imagined.
Finally, drug abuse damages the ability of people to act as free and conscious beings, capable of taking action to fulfill their needs. How free drug abusers are when they have no control over their actions or reactions is debatable. What is unarguable is that by giving in to bio-chemical processes that are deviant, a drug abuser loses what makes humans admirable and unique.
The effects of most drugs are not very well known. Even when they are, their influences are dependent on an individual's physical and psychological make up, and even occasional drug use can lead to unforeseen complications and reactions .
UNODC Region of South Asia website
International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)
Organization of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime , Secretary-General's bulletin, ST/SGB/2004/6, 15 March 2004 .
2006 World Drug Report
UNODC Makes the Case for Ending Cannabis Prohibition, Inadvertently
Asia & Pacific Amphetamine-Type Simulants Information Centre - an extensive information source on Amphetamine-Type Stimulants in Asia managed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking South Asia Office Conference