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UNODC – The societal position of drug users

Home / UNODC – The societal position of drug users


Illicit drug use is detrimental to society,  but there is a question on how to view drug users. Some view them as criminals who have to be punished for participating in an illegal market. Others see them more as victims or patients who need medical treatment. The criminalisation of drugs on the one hand ensures that problematic drug users can be removed from society, but also increases the difficulty to get help for addictions. In some countries, drug users are facing harsh penalties, including the death penalty, for buying and possessing drugs, which makes it more difficult for some to get the necessary medical treatment. Viewing drug users as victims increases the likelihood that they can get medical treatment without the stigmatisation, but requires changing the frameworks through which many societies view the issue, and extensive changes to the legal systems of many countries. 

The committee should discuss the desired societal position of drug users, and what measures can be taken to change the current framework. 

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