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International Cooperation Against the World Drug Problem

In: Social Issues

Submitted By jesicamtoscano
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Today it is generally recognized that drugs, along with organized crime that comes with it, jeopardize the development of many resolutions in our world. It is now clear to several organizations that drug control must become an essential element of our joint efforts to achieve peace, security and development. At the same time, we must reinforce our commitment to shared responsibility and the basic principles of health and human rights.

The 2011 World Drug Report documents developments in global drug markets and tries to explain the factors that drive them. Its analysis of trends and emerging challenges informs national and international drug and crime priorities and policies, and provides a solid foundation of evidence for counternarcotics interventions. Drug markets and drug use patterns change rapidly, so measures to stop them must also be quick to adapt. Thus the more comprehensive the drug data we collect and the stronger our capacity to analyze the problem, the better prepared the international community will be to respond to new challenges.

Drug use affects not only individual users, but also their families, friends, co-workers and communities. Children whose parents take drugs are themselves at greater risk of drug use and other social problems that harm communities. In some regions, illicit drug use is contributing to the rapid spread of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis.

Drug trafficking, the critical link between supply and demand, is fuelling a global criminal enterprise valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars that poses a growing challenge to stability and security. Drug traffickers and organized criminals are forming transnational networks, sourcing drugs on one continent, trafficking them across another, and marketing them in a third. In some countries and regions, the value of the illicit drug trade far exceeds the size of the legitimate economy. Given the enormous amounts of money controlled by drug traffickers, they have the capacity to corrupt officials. In recent years we have seen several such cases in which ministers and heads of national law enforcement agencies have been implicated in drug-related corruption. We are also witnessing more and more acts of violence, conflicts and terrorist activities fuelled by drug trafficking and organized crime.

The use and abuse of drugs has always been present in the world. People have always had a desire to eat or drink substances that make them feel relaxed, stimulated and euphoric. Narcotics have been used from 4000 B.C., and medicinal use of marijuana has been dated to 2737 B.C. in China, South and Central American Indians made many prehistoric discoveries of drug-bearing plants, pre-Columbian Mexicans used many substances, from tobacco to mind-expanding (hallucinogenic) plants, cocaine was used as a local anesthetic into surgical procedures.

But not until the 19th century AD were the active substances in drugs extracted. There followed a time when some of these newly discovered substances in drugs extracted. There was a time when some of the newly discovered substances such as morphine, laudanum and cocaine were completely unregulated and prescribed freely by physicians for a wide variety of ailments.

During the American Civil War, morphine was used freely, and wounded veterans returned home with their kits of morphine and hypodermic needles. Opium was once common in Asia, and there spread to the West. Opium dens flourished. By the 1900s there were and estimate of 250,000 addicts in the United States.
The majority of human societies throughout history have practiced recreational drug use in various forms. Probably the best known example of a recreational drug is alcohol, which most cultures have manufactured in one form or another. As with any drugs, some recreational drugs are addictive, most are harmful to one's health, and some are illegal in most places.
A wide variety of drugs have been employed for recreation at various times through history. Also very popular are alcohol and nicotine in the form of tobacco, present and accepted in most cultures today. Despite relatively recent proscription as an illegal drug in much of the world, marijuana retains its historical popularity.
The problems of addiction were recognized gradually. Legal measures against drug abuse in the United States were first established in 1875, when opium dens were outlawed in San Francisco. The first national drug law was the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which required accurate labeling of patent medicines containing opium and certain other drugs. In 1914 the Harrison Narcotic Act forbade sale of substantial doses of opiates or cocaine except by licensed doctors and pharmacies. Later, heroin was totally banned. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions made it illegal for doctors to prescribe any narcotic to addicts; many doctors who prescribed maintenance doses as part of an addiction treatment plan were jailed, and soon all attempts at treatment were abandoned. Use of narcotics and cocaine was diminished by the 1920s. The spirit of temperance led to the prohibition of alcohol by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1919, but Prohibition was repealed in 1933. In the 1930s most states required antidrug education in the schools, but fears that knowledge would lead to experimentation caused it to be abandoned in most places. Soon after the repeal of Prohibition, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Narcotics (now the Drug Enforcement Administration) began a campaign to portray marijuana as a powerful, addicting substance that would lead users into narcotics addiction. In the 1950s, use of marijuana increased again, along with that of amphetamines and tranquilizers.
The intolerance of drug use that characterized the earlier decades of the Twentieth Century changed with the tremendous social changes and political upheavals of the 1960s. Along with the tremendous change in public attitudes went a surge in the use of illegal drugs, and with it a renewed debate over decriminalization and even legalization of drug use.
The 1980s brought a decline in the use of most drugs, but cocaine and crack use soared. The military became involved in border patrols for the first time, and troops invaded Panama and brought its de facto leader, Manuel Noriega, to trial for drug trafficking.
All in all, the use and abuse of drugs around the world has been a growing problem throughout the years.
a) Consumption
Globally, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that, in 2009, between 149 and 272 million people, or 3.3% to 6.1% of the population aged 15-64, used illicit substances at least once in the previous year. About half of that number are estimated to have been current drug users, that is, having used illicit drugs at least once during the past month prior to the date of assessment. While the total number of illicit drug users has increased since the late 1990s, the prevalence rates have remained largely stable, as has the number of problem drug users, which is estimated at between 15 and 39 million.

In recent years, several new synthetic compounds have emerged in established illicit drug markets. Many of these substances are marketed as ‘legal highs’ and substitutes for illicit stimulant drugs such as cocaine or ‘ecstasy.’

In terms of the health consequences of drug use, the global average prevalence of HIV among injecting drug users is estimated at 17.9%, or equivalently, 2.8 million people who inject drugs are HIV positive. This means that nearly one in five injecting drug users is living with HIV among other diseases.

Deaths related to or associated with the use of illicit drugs are estimated between 104,000 and 263,000 deaths each year, equivalent to a range of 23.1 to 58.7 deaths per one million inhabitants aged 15-64. Over half of the deaths are estimated to be fatal overdose cases.

Globally, UNODC estimates that between 149 and 272 million people, or, 3.3% to 6.1% of the population aged 15-64 used illicit substances at least once in the previous year. About half that number is estimated to have been current drug users, that is, having used illicit drugs at least once during the past month prior to the survey. Thus, the use of illicit psychoactive substances – for which a global control system is in place - continues to be substantially lower than the use of a legal psychoactive substance such as tobacco. Some 25% of the adult population (15 years and above) are current tobacco smokers, according to the World Health Organization.

b) Production and trafficking
The world’s largest illicit drug product – in volume terms – is cannabis, that is, the production of cannabis herb, followed by cannabis resin. The second largest illicit drug production is related to cocaine, followed by heroin. Amphetamine-type stimulants production seems to be at comparable levels with heroin.

Trafficking flows continue to show distinct patterns:
• Most of the cannabis herb trafficking is intra-regional. In fact, most cannabis is locally produced and locally consumed and thus does not generally leave domestic frontiers.
• Most of the cannabis resin produced in Morocco is destined for consumption in West and Central Europe and North Africa. Cannabis resin produced in Afghanistan is primarily destined for neighboring regions.
• Cocaine trafficking is both intra-regional and inter-regional.
• Heroin trafficking is both intra-regional and interregional in nature. Heroin produced in Afghanistan is consumed within the region and/or trafficked to Europe. Some 160 mt of Afghan heroin are estimated to have entered Pakistan in 2009 of which the bulk (some 138 mt) were for final destinations in Europe, South-East Asia, South Asia and Africa. Some 145 mt of heroin is estimated to have been trafficked from Afghanistan to the Islamic Republic of Iran for local consumption and onward trafficking in 2009. Some 75-80 mt of heroin are estimated to have reached West and Central Europe, mostly trafficked via South-East Europe. About 90 mt of Afghan heroin are estimated to have been trafficked to Central Asia, mainly for final destinations in the C.I.S countries, notably the Russian Federation. Heroin manufactured in Myanmar is primarily for the market in other South-East Asian countries. Heroin produced in Mexico and Colombia is mainly destined for the United States and some limited local consumption.
• Trafficking in amphetamines continues to be mainly intra-regional, while the trafficking in amphetamines precursor chemicals continues to be largely inter-regional.
• Ecstasy-trafficking has – traditionally – been intraregional within Europe (as the origin of most of the ecstasy used to be Europe) and inter-regional for other regions. In recent years, the importance of Europe as a source region has clearly declined. Production has shifted to other regions, notably North America and South-East Asia. Exports from the latter regions to other regions are, however, still very limited.

c) Treatment demand
The need to enter treatment reflects problematic drug use, associated with adverse effects on the health of individuals. In most regions of the world, there continue to be clear regional patterns regarding the main problem drug types. In Europe and Asia, opioim (basically opiates, and in particular heroin) are dominant for problematic use. In some of the Asian countries, ATS - notably methamphetamine in South-East Asia and Captagon (that is, amphetamine, often mixed with caffeine) on the Arabian Peninsula – has emerged as the most problematic drug group. ATS in treatment demand is also widespread in Oceania, North America and West and Central Europe. The problematic use of cannabis makes a significant contribution to treatment demand across all regions but is particularly prevalent in Africa. In South America (including the Caribbean and Central America), cocaine is the primary drug responsible for drug treatment. In North America, a more diversified pattern has developed where a single, dominant drug type does not emerge. Cannabis, opium and cocaine are all equally represented. In Oceania, treatment is linked primarily to cannabis, followed by opium.


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