“Today, substance abuse problems are undeniably topical, since drugs are one of the scourges of our globalized world,” Yvonne Thunell, Chairman of Mentor International and former CEO of Mentor Foundation USA, said in an interview with Mentor International. Thunell’s presentation centered around drug prevention in children and youth, per Mentor’s mission statement.
“The most shocking was the marketing of both marijuana and new psychoactive substances toward the most vulnerable groups in society – children, youth, and poor people,” she said. “The long-term damages to the brain are also greater than what was earlier known.”
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 246 million people – or, one out of every 20 individuals – between the ages of 15 and 64 used some sort of illicit substance in 2013. This is an increase of 3 million people from the previous year. Twenty-seven million people were characterized as “problem drug users,” however, one out of every six with this label have access to rehabilitation.
The summit primarily focused on the scientific aspect of drug abuse. Presenters discussed the consequences of substance abuse on the body and brain, as well as increased accessibility to drugs in “cities, slums, and the countryside”; strategies to “fight the conditions fostering the use of drugs”; “exploitation of young children in criminal organizations” distributing narcotics; and the effects of legalization of soft drugs in society.
Professionals, scientists, researchers, medical doctors, and other activists working toward solutions in drug prevention were invited.
“The acceptance of recreational pharmacology us a midguided public health policy. Brain science shows that the widely abused drugs stimulate normal brain reward many times more intensely than natural rewards such as sex and eating, said Bob DuPont M.D., Mentor Foundation USA board member and founder of Institute for Behavior and Health. “To expose populations to drugs of of abuse, especially youth whose developing brains are especially vulnerable, is ton encourage the chemical slavery of addiction. This obsveration is not politics or idelogy; it is biology. The elucidation of the brain effects of drugs is a crowning achievement of modern neuroscience and of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of which I am proud to have served as its first Director.
“Our goal is to reach a consensus that investing in education, prevention, health care, addiction treatment, and – in certain cases – alternatives to incarceration would do more to end the drug trade than relying on primarily on the criminalization of the victims,” Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, stated in his introduction.
“A successful model of an effective and humane restrictive drug policy exists. It can be adopted worldwide. It shows the way to strongly discourage recreational drug use, to effectvely promote both drug prevention and treatment and to sharply limit the use of incarcenation. It is a strategy that was developed in response to an epidemic of intravenous drug use in Stockholm, Sweden in the late 1960s,” said DuPont calling on his fellow delegates of this distinguished summit “to joing together to produce a new manifesto — one that is brief and clear and shows the way forward to an effective anti-drug, pro-human life strategy that discourages recreational pharmacology.”Read DuPont’s full remarks to the summit here >>
Visit the Pontifical Academy of Science’s website to watch presentations from the summit’s invitees.