Drug Report 2020 of UN from the perspective of Georgia

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has published its 2020 World Drug Report, which provides information on UN member states ‘drug policies and current situation, provides analysis and conclusions on Member States’ commitments, and recommendations on global challenges under the new COVID-19. In the direction of.

The 2020 report also provides a global overview of the availability and demand for opiates, cocaine, amphetamine-type stimulants, cannabis-marijuana, and new psychoactive substances, and their major implications for population health, social status, countries’ economies, and human rights and drug safety On the interdependence of respect.

In the part of the world report, we inquired about Georgia’s position, recommendations and what we will have to consider in the context of the pandemic, in the direction of the current drug situation in the country. With these questions we addressed the Chairman of the Council of Scientific Experts of Psychiatry and Drug  Addiction of the Center for Mental Health and  Prevention of Addiction, Doctor of Medicine, Professor Gela Lezhava

Mr. Gela, what are the main points of the UN 2020 report and what are the guidelines for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to change the current trend for the better?

The socio-economic status of individuals, societies and states is closely linked to the problem of drugs. Unfavorable socio-economic situation contributes to the increase of problems caused by drug use, deterioration of socio-economic situation, people’s prospects to get proper education, work, satisfactory material remuneration, which negatively affects their families and society. It is emphasized every year that in order to break the vicious circle of drug addiction, overcome marginalization and socioeconomic disadvantages, programs related to anti-drug measures are needed – effective, evidence-based drug prevention and assistance, as well as drug prevention and prevention programs. , Aimed at the community and individuals – to improve public health, safety, stimulate economic development and reduce socio-economic inequality.

This year’s report is no exception. According to the UN, there is only one solution: to base drug prevention, treatment and rehabilitation measures on legal analysis of true statistics. Based on the received data, the measures, taking into account the international experience, should become an integral part of the socio-economic development of the country.

Such an approach to the problem of drug addiction will contribute to the recovery of the economy, reduce crime, improve the quality of social security and increase the welfare of society in general. This is the main message of the UN, to which I would add that the key to the fight against drug addiction in our country is in the hands of the public, the public should realize that this is a kind of pandemic for the country and we need such unanimity as the recent fight against the new coronavirus. Proper use of civilian force to prevent drug crime and consumption.

You mentioned  the pandemic, in the report, as we know, a large place was given to the impact of COVID-19 on the political outcome, what impact are we talking about?

The economic crisis caused by COVID-19 may aggravate the socio-economic situation of vulnerable groups of the population, which in turn may lead to a greater interest in illegal actions to compensate for their legal activities and loss of income as a means of survival. Following the lifting of restrictions imposed by COVID-19, an economic shock could lead to an increase in drug use, as it has been in the past.

Linking anti-drug programs to development measures that our government plans to take to mitigate the negative socio-economic effects of the crisis will help prevent a further increase in the number of individuals with psychoactive substance use caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, as we approach the global economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is as important as ever to reduce scarce government resources to fund effective measures and not to spend on supporting actions that have no scientific basis or are ineffective.

The UN report was written in general, taking into account the picture of the whole world, what is the more specific situation in our country?

Our country is part of the world, and in terms of open borders, any movement affects the part of the world where we live, in more or less doses.

The sharp drop in the level of economic activity caused by the new coronavirus pandemic and the deteriorating financial situation of people associated with it, both around the world and in Georgia, will encourage people to engage in the drug business to earn a living. Removing the restrictions caused by the epidemic will even help increase drug use, as has been the case in the past. It is in this direction that the UN issues important recommendations, which must be taken into account by us.

What are your recommendations as a field expert for the population of Georgia and those who create drug policy in the country?

The COVID-19 pandemic has qualitatively altered the importance of the drug problem for the well-being of society. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guerres believes that the confidence of scientific analysis and close cooperation in the current situation are the main tools for defeating the pandemic. The director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime believes similar weapons should be used against global drug problems.

Such an approach is more necessary today than ever because the pandemic has greatly exacerbated the drug problem worldwide.

The deterioration of the drug situation has affected more or less all countries, but this problem is especially dangerous for countries like Georgia, for a simple reason. Georgians are a very small nation, unlike the Germans, Italians, French, even Portuguese, Czechs and other nations. Unlike these nations, which can lose a certain percentage of the population without major problems due to drug addiction, the loss of a similar percentage in Georgians will lead to irreversible processes – our irreversible numerical decline. If we take into account that all European countries spend much more money on the problem of healthcare, including drugs, than we do, including on drug prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, it becomes clear that Georgians pay special attention to this problem. Particularly damaging are the opinions of dilettante experts who cite foreign examples. Can we compare the drug legislation of the Netherlands with the Georgian drug legislation? The Dutch government spends $ 120 a year on drugs alone per citizen. Others 90, 80, at least 50-40 dollars!

The findings of an annual report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, based on numerous, diverse statistical studies, in fact urges governments to take appropriate action based on scientific research based on the real situation in their countries, not to spare money to solve these problems or face dire consequences.