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Pike, Brigid (2010) UN body reviews drug policy. Drugnet Ireland, Issue 34, Summer 2010,

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The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the central policy-making body within the United Nations system dealing with drug-related matters, held its 53rd annual session in Vienna between 8 and 12 March 2010. The CND monitors the world drug situation, develops strategies on international drug control and recommends measures to combat the world drug problem.1 

Thematic debate
The CND’s annual thematic debate was on the subject of ‘measures to enhance awareness of the different aspects of the world drug problem, including by improving understanding of how to tackle the problem’. Key points to emerge from the debate included the following:
·         There is scientific evidence that drug use, even when occasional, poses serious risks to health.
·         Long-term and frequent use of illicit drugs has lasting effects on the functioning of the brain, on physical and mental health and on behaviour.
·         Drug use and drug dependence have a range of health-related, social and economic consequences for individuals, their families and the community.
·         Use of drugs by young people is a major concern, as drug use during childhood and adolescence affects the healthy development of the brain.
·         Female and male drug users have different histories and patterns of use. Female drug users are likely to have a co-morbid psychiatric disorder and a history of physical and sexual abuse and to make non-medical use of prescription drugs. The health and social consequences of drug abuse for female drug users, their families and the community require special consideration. Treatment and care services should address the special needs of women.
·         Reliable information on drugs and training for drug prevention should be provided extensively to primary health-care workers, teachers, parents, media professionals and police officers.
·         Prevention efforts should address all levels of risk (universal, selective and indicated), such efforts to include evidence-based interventions carried out in many settings (school, family, community and media), and should be tailored for the target population groups and be mainstreamed in national education and health policies.
·         Evaluation of interventions to prevent drug use is not only possible but essential, and all drug abuse prevention efforts should have strong monitoring and evaluation components.
·         There is an interplay of genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors that make individuals vulnerable to using drugs and becoming drug dependent.
·         Practitioners, policymakers and the general public should be made aware of the changes in brain functions that are at the root of compulsive behaviour and uncontrollable cravings, and that because of these changes drug dependence is most accurately classed as a health disorder.
·         Given that drug dependence is a health disorder, there is no justification for the stigma, ignorance and prejudice that persist and have adverse consequences for drug users, their families and the community.
·         Care for drug addicts should be integrated into mainstream health-care services.
·         Training of doctors, nurses and social workers should include an understanding of drug addiction as a chronic multi-factorial health disorder, and an understanding of evidence-based interventions.
·         Prevention and treatment strategies should be based on scientific evidence and trials, as is the case with other chronic health disorders.
·         Drug use and drug addiction are separate phenomena: while drug use is largely a function of access and availability, drug addiction is largely a function of genetic heredity.
·         Non-governmental organisations often lead the way where no services are available. Their efforts should be included in the mainstream provision of health, education and social policies, building on the resources and the synergies of civil society and the public sector.
On foot of this debate and consideration of reports on the world situation with regard to drug abuse and drug trafficking, the Commission passed 15 resolutions related to, among other issues, strengthening awareness and prevention efforts; strengthening international co-operation in countering the covert administration of psychoactive substances related to sexual assault and other criminal acts; strengthening international co-operation in countering drug trafficking and related offences; achieving universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support for drug users and people living with or affected by HIV; measures to protect children and young people from drug abuse; promoting the sharing of information on the potential abuse of and trafficking in synthetic cannabinoid receptor agonists (synthetic cannabis); strengthening systems for the control of the movement of poppy seeds obtained from illicitly grown opium poppy crops; use of poppers as an emerging trend in drug abuse in some regions; and strengthening international co-operation and regulatory and institutional frameworks for the control of substances frequently used in the manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychoactive substances.
Ireland and the CND
The CND comprises 53 members elected from among the member states of the UN. Ireland is not currently a member of the CND, but an Irish delegation attended the 53rd session as observers. Delegates included Marita Kinsella (chief pharmacist) and Mary O’Reilly of the Department of Health and Children; Niall Cullen and John Garry of the Department of Justice and Law Reform; Dairearca Ní Néill of the Office of the Minister for Drugs; and John Francis Cogan (ambassador) and Niamh Neylon of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Vienna.2 
1. For further information on the 53rd Session of the CND, visit www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CND/ 
2. For further information on Ireland and UN drug policy, see reports in Drugnet Ireland, Issues 8, 18, 22, 27, 30.


Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
Intervention Type
Issue Title
Issue 34, Summer 2010
Health Research Board
Issue 34, Summer 2010
Accession Number
HRB (Available)

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