Public health problems caused by psychoactive substance use have reached alarming proportions and globally constitute a significant, but to a large extent preventable, health and social burden. Rapid globalization, technological and communication developments, and growing availability and diversity of synthetic compounds with psychoactive and dependence-producing properties all require adequate and proportionate policy and programmatic responses to the drug problem. The public health strategies and the health sector have an important and growing role in mitigating drug-related harm at all levels.

As the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system, WHO has an important role to play in promoting a public health approach to counter the world drug problem, strengthening the role of health systems in reducing the disease burden due to psychoactive drug use and improving the well-being of populations at all levels.

In order to support the implementation of public health-oriented drug policies and programmes in health systems, WHO will intensify its normative function in the areas of prevention, early intervention, treatment, care, harm reduction, recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration, with a focus on drug use disorders and associated comorbidities.       

Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.