The International Narcotics Control Board is the successor to several drug control bodies. Over 70 years ago, the first such body was established by international treaty. The Board consists of 13 members elected by the Economic and Social Council. The Board collaborates with the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP).
With expenditures of under $100 million, impressive results have been achieved worldwide. This is a fraction of the estimated $18 billion spent by the United States in an effort to control illicit drugs.
United Nations International Drug Control Programme
The goal of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme is to eliminate the illegal drug trade worldwide.
According to the UNDCP “Mission Statement,” the mission of the UNDCP is to work with the nations and the people of the world to tackle the global drug problem and its consequences by:
- alerting the world to the threats posed by drug abuse to individuals, families, communities and institutions;
- building and supporting local, national and international partnership to address drug issues;
- promoting and enhancing efforts to reduce drug abuse, particularly among the young and vulnerable;
- strengthening international action against drug production, trafficking and drug related crime;
- providing information, analysis and expertise on the drug issue; and
- ensuring adequate supplies of controlled drugs for medical and scientific purposes.
“Leading Global Drug Control,” the UNDCP publication states:
“On the eve of the new millennium we face an unprecedented opportunity to build a drug-free world: we have a solid base of knowledge and expertise, sophisticated new technologies, and the unified will of the world’s governments … Drug use is responsible for lost wages, soaring health care costs, broken families and deteriorating communities.”
The strategies employed to achieve these objectives include deterring drug use, halting production, cutting supply lines, and combating the laundering of drug money and assets.
In my opinion, the U.S. approach to the drug problem, which emphasizes law enforcement, has yielded disappointing results. One reason for the apparent failure of the “war on drugs” is that it treats symptoms rather than correcting causes. The primary cause is the demand for drugs.
According to UNDCP: “Demand reduction efforts should be integrated into broader social welfare and health promotion policies and preventive education programmes. It is necessary to secure and sustain an environment in which healthy choices become attractive and accessible. Efforts to reduce the demand for drugs should be part of a broader social policy approach that encourages multisectorial collaboration. Such efforts should be comprehensive, multifaceted, coordinated and integrated with social and economic well-being of people.”
There are significant cultural issues which relate to the problem of drug abuse. It is my opinion that the utilization patterns and marketing strategies for prescription drugs have a significant effect on the demand for illegal drugs.
As one example, “Report 1998” of the International Narcotics Control Board expressed concern regarding the use of methylphenidate (Ritalin) for the treatment of attention deficit disorder (ADD). The report states:
“Since 1993, the Board has closely followed developments in the use of methylphenidate for the treatment of children diagnosed with ADD. The main areas of concern for the Board have been trends in the diagnosis of ADD and in the prescription of methylphenidate for its treatment in theUnited States , which consumes more than 85 per cent of the world total. Recognizing, however, that developments in the United States could have an impact on other countries, the Board requested . . . that all governments exercise the utmost vigilance in order to prevent the over-diagnosis of ADD in children and, with that, the medically unjustified treatment with methylphenidate and other stimulants.”
Recently, the consumption of methylphenidate has grown in more than 50 countries, the majority of them reporting annual increases of over 100% use of the substance … A factor contributing to the increasing consumption of methylphenidate is the expansion of the population of patients treated with the substance.
At the beginning of the 1990s, the majority of children treated were boys in primary school. Since then, the range of patients has been extended to include children, adolescents and adults. The proportion of female patients has also increased. According to recent reports, some children as young as one year old are being diagnosed with ADD in the United States . There has been an increase in the number of children under five years of age who are being treated with methylphenidate in the United States .
NGO role in drug issues
As part of a briefing session for NGOs concerning the International Narcotics Control Board, I had the opportunity to ask Ambassador Herbert Okun if there were programs of demand reduction in operation which emphasized cultural dynamics, such as the widespread prescription and use of “performance enhancing” drugs in the United States , and whether any such programs were successful.
Ambassador Okun stated that in his opinion, things were getting worse. He cited the promotion of “performance enhancing” drugs such as Viagra by Sen. Dole, as well as the direct promotion of prescription drugs to the consumer. The Ambassador also mentioned the availability of over-the-counter diet aids.
Other discussants stated that NGOs play a significant role in demand reduction.
A chiropractic perspective
We live in a society where pharmacological solutions are sought and promoted for problems ranging from overweight to excessive gambling. Drugs are seen as a “quick fix” to complex physical, emotional, and even social problems. Any potentially uncomfortable circumstance may be medicalized, with a pharmacological solution available either today or tomorrow, if enough research funds are available.
The demand for illegal drugs is likely to be high in an affluent society that seeks enhanced sexual or athletic performance, as well as behavioral and emotional challenges.
The chiropractic profession is well positioned to assume a leadership role in this changing cultural dynamic. By emphasizing a non-pharmacological health strategy — the correction of vertebral subluxations — chiropractic care enhances quality of life. Preliminary evidence suggests that chiropractic patients use fewer prescription drugs than non-chiropractic patients, and that chiropractic care has potential in the care of persons suffering from addictions and compulsive behavior.
By correcting neurological interference, chiropractic improves physical, mental, and social well being. Chiropractic care may play a pivotal role in solving our world’s drug problem.