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The White House
For Immediate Release

Statement from White House Drug Policy Acting Director on the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of National Drug Control Policy and President Obama’s top advisor on drug policy, released the following statement in commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking:

“Drug use and its consequences touch every citizen of every nation of the world. From the millions who suffer from substance use disorders, to the countless victims of drug-related crime and trafficking, no single person or country is immune from this serious public health and safety challenge.

Today, we are in the midst of an important paradigm shift in the way the global community responds to this threat. Increasingly, and with support and assistance from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, nations around the globe are relying on science and research rather than ideology to reduce drug use and its consequences. This means that while law enforcement efforts should play a role in protecting our citizens from drug-related crime and trafficking, our policies now emphasize evidence-based health interventions to help safeguard the health and safety of our citizens.

Like other diseases and health conditions, substance use disorders are preventable and treatable, and we are applying holistic approaches emphasizing public health interventions to address this challenge. On this important date, I urge all countries to build on past progress by increasing efforts to expand evidence-based public health interventions, including behavioral and medication-assisted treatment, screening and brief intervention, and the full range of health services for those in prison or under criminal justice supervision. We should work to expand initiatives to celebrate recovery, reduce stigma, and eliminate obstacles to education, employment, and housing for those who are in recovery from substance use disorders. We also should redouble our efforts to address emerging drug threats, including the new psychoactive substances (NPS) that have emerged over the past five years and are highlighted in the UN’s 2014 World Drug Report being released today.

We are not powerless against these challenges. In the United States, the overall rate of drug use has fallen by roughly 30 percent over the past three decades. More recently, cocaine use has plummeted by 40 percent since 2006.

As we look toward the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs in 2016, I call upon our partner nations to exchange ideas, scrutinize past efforts, and look for ways to improve our collective efforts within the framework of the UN Drug Conventions in order to address the full range of challenges posed by the global drug problem. The progress we have made is important and real, but there is much more to be accomplished in the years ahead.”