By a resolution of December 7, 1987, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark June 26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trade as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve an international society without drug abuse.

Each year, with the support of individuals, communities and various organizations around the world, this global labeling aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs pose in society.

Having in mind the above, on June 23, 2022, in the Palace of Serbia the Office for Combating Drugs of the Government of the Republic of Serbia organized a conference marking the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.

This year’s global campaign to mark International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is “Addressing the Challenges of Drugs in Health and Humanitarian Crises”, whereby UNODC calls on governments, international organizations, civil society and all stakeholders to take urgent action to protect people. including strengthening the prevention and treatment of drug use, as well as combating illicit drug supply. The campaign invites everyone to take care of people as part of their activities, even in times of crisis.

At the conference held at the Palace of Serbia, the participants were addressed by representatives of relevant state institutions whose jurisdiction is the problem of drug abuse, as well as representatives of civil society organizations dealing with prevention, treatment and social reintegration of people with drug problems.

Representatives of the institutions spoke about various current topics in the field of the fight against drugs, such as the impact of the global humanitarian crisis on the drug market and the trend of seizures in Serbia, as well as the implementation of prevention programs in these circumstances. Also, the important role of the media in the prevention of drug use and destigmatization of former addicts was emphasized. The second part of the conference was dedicated to recovery from addiction, as a complex social process, and the importance of therapeutic communities in the rehabilitation and resocialization of former addicts, as well as the role of the center for social work in terms of social protection of vulnerable categories. The importance of forming multidisciplinary teams in local governments was especially emphasized.

When it comes to current trends when it comes to drugs, the situation on the global scene indicates alarming data. UNODC statistics point out that cannabis abuse is at a high level, and that along with the increase in abuse, the attitude of young people is growing that this type of opioid has no harmful consequences for health and society. UNODC research indicates that during 2019, almost 200 million people used cannabis. This also points to the fact that the number of cannabis users has increased by 18% over the past decade.

It is estimated, according to research, that about 20 million people used cocaine in 2019, which represents 0.4 percent of the population. The number of people who have used cocaine has increased by 22% in the past decade. Despite taking into account global population growth, these data are alarming.

When it comes to amphetamines, research indicates that in 2019, more than 27 million people used these substances. The research also showed that the seizures of ecstasy and amphetamines doubled internationally between 2015 and 2019. The number of new psychoactive substances on a global level during 2019 is 541, according to UNODC data.

A remarkable increase has been observed when it comes to drug trafficking via the Internet, and the international community is of the opinion that this type of trafficking could completely transform global patterns of drug use. Research has shown that compared to the period from 2011 to 2017, when the estimated profit from illegal drug trafficking via the Internet was $ 80 million; increased by as much as 4 times – compared to the period from 2017 to 2020, when the estimated profit of 315 million dollars.

The drug trends were undoubtedly influenced by the COVID 19 pandemic, and the results of innovations during the pandemic are visible in the field of prevention, but also in reducing the damage from drug abuse. However, the negative consequences of the pandemic are also visible, especially when it comes to the increase in the use of cannabis and sedatives. Accordingly, a joint response is needed in the fight against drugs at all levels – international, national, local, and at the individual level.