The International Drug Problem

As we draw near to a day set aside to create awareness about the international illicit drug problem, countries around the world are planning events to educate people and prevent drug abuse. Many of the campaigns that are held center primarily around education for young people about the dangers of drugs. This year, however, many people have questions about why international drug trafficking has gotten so bad over the years and what policies are actually effective in preventing it.

Drug Abuse is a Problem

June 26 is known as the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. It was first enacted by the United Nations General Assembly in December of 1987, and the purpose of the special day from the beginning was to express the UN’s “determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.” (1)

Throughout the history of this observed event, it has been the position of the UN that drugs should be controlled, and that nations must continue to work together on drug policies in order to control the illicit drug problem. As Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message during last year’s observance, “Drug abuse poses significant health challenges… Drugs are a threat to the environment… The illicit drug trade also undermines governance, institutions and societal cohesion… To break this vicious circle, it is essential to promote development in drug-growing regions. Our work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and fight drugs must go hand-in-hand. In seeking to eradicate illicit crops, we must also work to wipe out poverty.” (1)

What Policies are Effective?

There has been confusion lately about the international problem of drug trafficking. The ultimate questions is; how do we stop international drug smuggling and the violence and addiction that go along with it? There are a couple of approaches that governments are now exploring. The Global Commission on Drug Policy has suggested that governments legalize some drugs, in order to decrease the need and effectiveness of international drug trafficking. Others feel this is a bad idea and that we need to work harder on law enforcement at the borders. Still others, like many of the countries that are planning events for June 26 this year, focus on education.

What should be done?  Should we legalize marijuana and other drugs in our countries so that there is no incentive to smuggle the drugs in? Should we crack down on illegal drug trade and invest more time and energy into the war on drugs? Nations will need to work together, as June 26 suggests, to come up with a strategy that works.

There will always be drug abusers, but it is not necessary to have the widespread drug abuse and addiction that we see in our world today. If we continue to create programs that prevent drug abuse among our young people, we can work to save lives among people before they even get caught up with drugs.