UN Drugs Chief Praises Swedish Drug Control Model

VIENNA, 7 September (UN Information Service) – The Executive Director of the  United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Antonio Maria Costa, said  today  that  Sweden’s  successful  drug control policies were a model which other countries could learn much from.

Launching  a  UNODC  report  entitled Sweden’s Successful Drug Policy: A Review  of the Evidence, he said drug use in Sweden was just a third of the European  average  while  spending  on  drug control was three times the EU average.

“Societies have the drug problem that they deserve,” Mr. Costa said. “In Sweden’s  case,  the  commitment  to  prevention,  law  enforcement, demand reduction  and  treatment over the past thirty years has made a significant difference.”

Mr. Costa said those who  doubted the effectiveness of drug control should look at Sweden’s experience, which was useful not only for showing that drug control is possible, but how and why.

The report shows that amphetamine use in Sweden was high in the 1950s when such stimulants were readily available. Overall drug use rose in the second half of the1960s during a period of rather liberal drug policies but declined strongly in the 1970s and the 1980s due to progressively tightening drug control. Drug use rose again in the 1990s due to budget cuts, unemployment and growing drug supplies but has followed a clear downward trend since 2001 as a result of a National Action Plan, the establishment of a National Drug Coordinator and improved funding.

Mr. Costa praised the culture of drug abuse prevention and treatment in
Sweden. “Long-term and cohesive policies, backed up by sufficient funding
and the support of civil society, have proven vital for success,” he said.

He stressed the strong correlation between the Swedish Government’s special efforts to target cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants and an over-all reduction in drug use. “The lessons of Sweden’s drug control history should be learned by others,” said Mr. Costa.

Sweden’s Minister for Public Health and Social Services, Morgan
Johansson, said: “I am very proud that the report commends Sweden as a successful example. But this doesn’t mean that wehave won the fight against drugs. The work must continue, every day. Preventive measures are necessary. We also have to improve rehabilitation for people with drug abuse problems.”

The UNODC Executive Director praised Sweden’s efforts to promote international drug control and thanked the country for its support for UNODC. “When it comes to drug control, Sweden practises what it preaches.
It is a driving force in ensuring implementation of international drug control targets.”

For information contact:

Richard Murphy
Spokesman, UNODC
Telephone: +43 1 260 60 5761
E-mail: [email protected] 

United Nations Information Service Vienna (UNIS) P.O.Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Tel.: +43 1 260 60 – 5693; Fax: +43 1 260 60 7 5899
Email: [email protected]