Send to

Choose Destination
Addiction. 2009 Apr;104(4):510-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2009.02536.x.

Ten years after the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS): assessing drug problems, policies and reform proposals.

Author information

School of Public Policy and Department of Criminology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.


In 1998 the United Nations General Assembly Special Session resolved that governments would reduce drug production and consumption greatly within 10 years. With that period now elapsed, there is an interest in reviewing how successful this was and considering how drug policy could be improved. The demand for drugs in the world has stabilized mainly as a result of the interaction of epidemic forces, culture and economic development. Supply has become more concentrated and the menu of drugs has changed surprisingly slowly. Drug policy is shifting to a more explicitly tolerant configuration in Europe and a few other countries, but retains its ferocity in most of the world. The most prominent innovations under discussion have limited potential effects (heroin maintenance), have as yet been unproductive of policy interventions ('addiction is a brain disease') or have no political appeal (legalization). The option with the most scope is increased effort at diverting arrested drug users out of criminal justice systems. No prevention, treatment or enforcement strategies have demonstrated an ability to substantially affect the extent of drug use and addiction. The best that government interventions can do is to reduce the damaging consequences of drug use and drug control. More attention should be given to reductions in the intensity of drug enforcement, which has many unintended adverse consequences and yields few of the claimed gains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center