CULTURE TOLERATING RECREATIONAL DRUG USE UNDERMINES PREVENTION EFFORTS

Posted on May 31, 2018

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http://www.incb.org/documents/Publications/PressRelease/PR1997/e_bn_02.pdf

Says New Annual Report of International Narcotics Control Board

,….. pop culture idols and
others
that not only tolerate, but actively promote, as chic
and harmless, the recreational use of drugs:
pop
music
as
a global industry is by far the most
influential trend setter for young people of most cultures.
Song
lyrics advocate the smoking of marijuana or taking
other
drugs and certain pop stars make statements and set
examples
as if the use of drugs for non-medical purposes
were
a normal and acceptable part of a person’s lifestyle.
The
effect of drug-friendly pop music seems to survive
even the occasional shock of overdose deaths, as such
incidents
tend to be seen as an occasion to mourn the loss
of an idol and not an opportunity to confront the lethal
effect of “recreational” drug use.
the
media
portrayal
of certain drug issues — especially
the use of marijuana and the issues of liberalization and
legalization — has encouraged rather than prevented abuse.
The
Board views the overall coverage of the drug problem
as far from balanced since influential newspapers and key
television stations tend to focus exclusively on the
controversial
and provocative aspects of the issue.
Legalization and liberalization, the advocacy of the medical
use of cannabis are the recurring attention grabbers for
reports and editorials. The Board’s concern is not the
coverage
of those topics but the fact that only those topics
seem to receive highlighted attention.
knowledge on how to grow cannabis indoors, or how to
make
a range of “designer drugs” and which common
plants
contain hallucinogenic properties was always

available.
While in the past, obtaining that knowledge
required
considerable research through libraries and
medical
journals, today it comes to our living room. It is at
our
fingertips through the
Internet
,
crossing all national
boundaries
and defying restrictions on the dissemination of
information.
The Board is concerned by the fact that there
are
many different Web pages devoted to the production
and
manufacture of illicit drugs and news groups for
exchanging information not only on making drugs, but also
on
how to avoid detection, for sharing experiences and for
providing support to persons arrested for illegal possession
of controlled drugs.
the use of cannabis (hemp)
in foodstuffs and
beverages, portrays cannabis as an innocuous, edible or
even nutritious substance, and is, in the view of the Board,
often just another tactical element in a wider strategy which
has as its final aim the legalization of cannabis. In fact, as
the Board points out, in their catalogues or advertising
campaigns, many marketers of hemp openly admit that
their ultimate objective is the legalization of cannabis.
To
take on the challenge of a pro-drug environment,
Governments
are called upon to be more active and inno-vative. The Board clearly points out that Governments
have not only moral but also legal obligations, as spe-cified
in the international drug control conventions, to
actively
counter all forms of “public incitement” that
encourage
abuse of drugs and psychotropic substances.
Governments
should take the initiative in the debate on
drug
issues and not leave the advocacy role only to those
who
wish to change public attitudes to drug abuse. This is
all
the more important, as scattered evidence from public
opinion polls suggests that the majority of people are not in
favour of any form of legalization.
The Board believes that the media as well as the sport
and entertainment industry are key players whose
assistance should be sought in developing innovative
strategies to influence the present “pro-drug” environment.
The creation of a culture that is predominantly against drug
abuse
is the most promising form of prevention in the long
term.
The
change in public attitude towards tobacco smoking
is
used as an example by the Board to show that it is
possible
to influence the public and gradually change the
environment.
The change in smoking attitudes and thus a
considerable
drop in tobacco consumption, has required
years
of efforts on a number of fronts.Therefore, as the
Board
notes, for drug abuse prevention programmes to be
effective:
“they must start early, be comprehensive and
– 2 –
tailor their messages to the market. They must also be
sustained and must maintain their credibility by not
exaggerating or understating the consequences of drug
abuse”
.
The
Board concludes that if the above principles are
followed and sufficient resources are allocated, preventive
measures can have a real impact. The Board is realistic in
noting that the elimination of all forms of drug
experimentation, use and abuse will never be achieved.
However,
this should not be a reason to give up the
ultimate
aim of all prevention efforts, namely a drug-free
society.
Most prevention efforts do have an effect and,
like commercial advertising, reach enough of the market
to
have a positive impact. Prevention programmes should
be considered successful even though they may not
prevent all illicit drug abuse.”
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