Management of substance abuse

WHO Forum on alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviours

The World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse organizes, for the first time, the global Forum on alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviours (FADAB) with a primary goal to enhance public health actions in these areas by strengthening partnerships and collaboration among public health oriented organizations, networks and institutions in the era of Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDG 2030).

The forum will take place from 26 to 28 June 2017 at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Participation in the forum is by invitation only.

The World Health Assembly to discuss
the public health dimension of the world drug problem

The 140th session of the WHO Executive Board (EB), in January 2017, included further discussion on the topic “Public health dimension of the world drug problem,” as decided at the sixty-ninth World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2016.

In preparation for the EB, the WHO Secretariat published an update on the Secretariat’s activities on the public health dimensions of the world drug problem, including collaboration with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and International Narcotics Control Board (INCB). The discussions will continue in the World Health Assembly in May 2017

DG`s opening remarks at the 60th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs

WHO/Pierre Albouy

In her opening remarks at to 60th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna 13th March, Dr Margaret Chan urged that policies to combat the world drug problem must be based on the medical and scientific evidence. She reconfirmed WHO`s commitment, as a public health agency, to continue to play its role in addressing the critical public health elements of the world drug problem in collaboration with relevant UN agencies, including UNODC and other partners, and keep these efforts high on the agenda in forthcoming sessions of WHO`s governing bodies.

Strengthening collaboration with UNODC

WHO/C. Black

WHO and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have made official plans for strengthened collaboration on the public health issues relating to drug use around the world. The Memorandum of Understanding signed builds on the ongoing collaboration between the two UN entities, already intensive in the areas of drug dependence treatment and care. Areas for further joint work will include prevention of drug use and drug use disorders, improving access to medicines under international control, addressing the challenges of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and monitoring drug use and its health and social consequences.

Joint UNESCO, UNODC and WHO publication
on education sector responses to substance use

In 2017, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) released a booklet on Education sector responses to the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, in the UNESCO series Good Policy and Practice in Health Education.

fact buffet

Drug use

230 millionpeople, or 1 in 20 adults, are estimated to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2010.

World Drug Report 2012

Health services

1.7 bedsper 100 000 population are available for the treatment of alcohol and drug use disorders

Beds for the treatment of alcohol and drug use disorders

Pharmacological treatment

30%of countries have effective medication available

Availability of opioid agonist treatment

The Global Information System on Alcohol and Health

The Global Information System on Alcohol and Health (GISAH) provides easy and rapid access to a wide range of alcohol-related health indicators. It is an essential tool for assessing and monitoring the health situation and trends related to alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, and policy responses in countries.


This web site contains information pertaining to psychoactive substance use and abuse, and also information about the World Health Organization's projects and activities in the areas of substance use and substance dependence.

WHO is the only agency dealing with all psychoactive substances, regardless of their legal status. WHO’s mandate in the area of psychoactive substance use includes:

  • Prevention and reduction of the negative health and social consequences of psychoactive substance use;
  • Reduction of the demand for non-medical use of psychoactive substances;
  • Assessment of psychoactive substances so as to advise the United Nations with regard to their regulatory control.

Since its founding in 1948, WHO has played a leading role in supporting countries to prevent and reduce the problems due to psychoactive substance use, and in recommending which psychoactive substances should be regulated. In 2000, the Department of Substance Abuse was merged with the Department of Mental Health to form the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, reflecting the many common approaches of management of mental health and substance use disorders.


Latest publications

Drug use and road safety: a policy brief

This publication provides up-to-date information on drug use and road safety to support informed decisions on road safety and drug policies in WHO Member States.

The health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use

This publication aims to present the current knowledge on the impact of nonmedical cannabis use on health.

WHO REFERENCES

WHO Resolutions Related to Substance Use

For more information

WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence

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WHO Expert Committee on Problems Related to Alcohol Consumption

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UN REFERENCES

UN International Drug Control Conventions

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UN Key Declarations

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