Mental Health Day 2018 - drug dependence is a mental health issue that is preventable, treatable and curable

Vienna, 10 October 2018 - Drug dependence is a mental health issue. It is preventable, treatable and curable. On Mental Health Day 2018, we reiterate that prevention and treatment of drug abuse and dependence, particularly among young people, must be prioritized.

Drug dependence accounts for almost one per cent of the global burden of disease.

Any use of drugs among children and adolescents is a cause for concern and can have serious adverse consequences on the developing brain and increase the risk and severity of later drug use disorders. Treatment is beneficial for young people who use drugs, even when not suffering from a diagnosable drug use disorder. Family and community play an important role in adolescent drug treatment, and interventions must be age-appropriate. 

Members States have a treaty-based obligation to take all practicable measures for prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration. INCB has been urging Governments to step up their efforts to prevent and treat drug dependence. The INCB Annual Report for 2017 focused on treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration for drug use disorders, and included specific recommendations for implementation by Governments.

Mechanisms to prevent drug use must be strengthened and included in efforts to change lifestyle and habits, in the same way that prevention programmes work for other diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

In the context of the right to health and promoting health and well-being, which includes mental health, the INCB President has urged Governments to:

  • ensure that estimates of national requirements for controlled medicines accurately reflect the needs of patients, including for the treatment of mental health disorders, such as anxiety and opioid dependence;
  • include drug use disorders in national prevention and treatment plans for non-communicable diseases and ensure universal access to treatment, whenever needed; and
  • to ensure resources and training to enable health professionals to prevent, diagnose and treat drug use disorders, with particular emphasis on children and young people, as essential components for ensuring and promoting global mental health.
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