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System of Measures to Overcome Drug Abuse

E.G. Gasanov

This and many other very interesting materials have been published in the book "Drug Abuse: Tendencies and Ways to Overcome It (based on materials of the Republic of Azerbaijan)" (Мoscow: "JurInfoR" Educational and Consulting Center, 1998)


Drug abuse is a socially dangerous and complicated phenomenon. Narco-crime, particularly, should be countered by a rigid system of measures[036].

These combine numerous and diversified steps having social, legal, criminological, economic, ecological, organizational and international aspects. The word system is understood as "a whole consisting of parts, a combination; ...a great number of elements bearing a relation to each other, connected with each other, forming a sort of integrity or unity"[037].

The system of measures for overcoming drug abuse is comprised of many steps bearing relation to each other.

System of Measures to Overcome Drug Abuse

The diversity of such measures, their relationships and contacts can be illustrated by law practices, law-making and law enforcement, as well as by the crime prevention theories both on domestic and international scales. For example, a comprehensive inter-disciplinary action program to prevent the spread of drug addiction submitted for discussion at the international antidrug conference in Vienna in July 1987 contained more than 400 articles and recommendations to governments and organizations as to how this negative phenomenon should be overcome[038].

The UN international program for combating drugs for the years 1994 and 1995, 1995 and 1996 comprises 298 projects featuring various aspects, directions and measures for checking the spread of drugs. 216 out of them were carried through in 1994 and 1995 and the implementation of the remaining 82 projects is underway. The total dollar amount of resources mobilized for the fulfillment of these projects is estimated at US$ 484,397,800. The sum was allocated by the UN International Antidrug Program's Fund.

The Concept of the Russian Federation government's policy on drug control, endorsed by decision No 5494 of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation on July 22nd 1993[039], incorporates quite a few antidrug measures from those developed by the world community and registered by international conventions and in other documents. This Concept emphasizes the measures that have been tested and are successfully utilized.

Since the system of measures against drug abuse is too complicated the discussion of its contents is related, firstly, to the general characterization of its components and, secondly, to the classification of these measures in their relation to each other.

Basic Aspects of Measures to Overcome Drug Abuse

The measures against drug abuse have some social, legal, criminological, medical, biological, political, economic, ecological, organizational and international aspects. Although these aspects have different spheres of application, they still remain interrelated. For example, measures for curing drug addicts have medical, social and legal aspects to them; measures for combating drug-related crimes have legal, criminological, social and other aspects; measures for combating money laundering have legal, social, economic, international and other aspects and so on. So, each particular aspect can be discussed only in abstract terms. This approach to the definition and description of aspects makes it possible to give a full characterization of the system of measures against drug abuse.

Social Dimension

The social dimension is the cornerstone of all other aspects. All the antidrug measures are permeated with it. There is a correlation between the social aspect and each of the other aspects. It is either a general element in relation to something specific such as medical measures, or the whole of something which represents a part such as criminological measures. It can also be a content when the other represents a form, as in legal measures. In short, the social aspect can be regarded as a common for all antidrug measures[040].

The social aspect of measures aimed at eliminating drug abuse is one of the broadest and the most varied. It covers different activities of government bodies and institutions (medical, law-enforcement, educational etc.) and of the NGOs engaged in the work of eliminating drug abuse, particularly, in preventing it at the general social, social-psychological, and individual levels.

It is this aspect that covers present-day international requirements in the area of combating drug abuse and illegal drug trafficking. For example, plans for checking illegal narcotic operations should be based, for one, on the definition of social problems of drug addiction and the estimation of the scale of drug abuse. This estimation helps to work out proposals for preventing drug abuse, checking illegal drug trafficking and providing drug addicts with an opportunity to receive treatment and restore their work abilities.

One can single out measures aimed at revealing the number of drug users among students and working people and preventing this habit in order to ensure a better study level or a higher labor productivity; and bringing accident at work place to an end. Other preventive measures may include antidrug education at training centers, among work staffs and among higher risk population groups or drug users, and their families. There should also be rehabilitation measures providing for the establishment of medical institutions - out-patient clinics, hospital departments, doctor's consulting rooms, and work therapy centers[041]. Additionally there are legal measures for making those involved in drug-related crimes answerable for their actions and for intensifying the customs' control over the shipment of drugs across borders.

Legal Dimension

The legal aspect of the measures under consideration can be seen as a totality of legal norms including international conventions against drugs and determining the degree of a judicial responsibility for them, mainly, criminal and administrative; secondly, regulating various legal relationships arising from drug use, thirdly, ensuring a compulsory treatment for drug addicts who try to avoid it and, fourthly, referring to these or other substances as narcotics[042].

Criminological Dimension

The criminological aspect comprises measures aiming to overcome narco-crime, as a totality of drug-related crimes. These measures aim to study, analyze and sum up the structure and dynamics of these crimes and their latency. In addition, they aim to establish the causal complex of the given crime and determine the content, nature and direction of actions aimed at removing or neutralizing the causes conducive to the commitment of drug-related crimes. Thirdly, they aim to disclose and fix typical features, traits and qualities of an individual guilty of committing this or that crime. Lastly, they aim to develop methods for preventing drug-related crimes.

Medical Dimension

The medical (biological) aspect involves the improvement of narcological aid and methods for curing drug addicts, the need to increase the level of professional medical training for those engaged in treating addicts and persons taking drugs without a doctor's prescription and the development of new medicines and medical equipment for treating addicts.

Political Dimension

The political aspect involves combating narco-business, which tries to undermine the foundations of state power, weaken the entire machinery of state and diminish the nation's trust in the government.

Some juridical works make it a point that organized crime opposes legal actions of top government bodies not only by committing crimes but also by bending administration officials to the will of criminal associations so that they could protect criminal activities[043].

The resistance of narco-business to government lawful actions can result in attempts to undermine the foundations of state and in the re-orientation and distortion of any country's policy. So, central to the political aspect of measures against narco-business is blocking the influence of drug dealers on the national policy by barring nomination of corrupt officials to key posts in the government.

The Economic Dimension

There are two facets- retrospective and perspective of the economic aspect of measures against drug abuse. The retrospective facet, on the one hand, involves direct expenses of the state to combat narcotics, and, on the other, the lost benefits to citizens as a result of the spread of drug addiction.

Direct expenses include sizeable resources taken out from the state budget to set up and maintain various medical and educational centers for handicapped children, including those who inherited health problems from their parents suffering from drug addiction. In addition this includes expenses to support internal affairs agencies, customs officers engaged in combating the proliferation of drugs, production of special equipment for identifying drugs, as well as production of medicines for drug users. Finally, the direct expenses are used to promote international cooperation in joint antidrug actions with the United Nations Organization, Interpol and other international agencies and carry out research in the field of medicine, psychiatry, psychology and law, and to conduct an antidrug education.

The cost to society is revealed in an increase in the number of physically handicapped and mentally retarded people, victims of narcotics. In the long run this leads to a curtailment of society's physical and intellectual potential as a whole, such as lower standards in education and labor productivity. This, in turn, causes a reduction in the amount of material and other benefits produced by society and of resources for various government-run programs. There is also an increase in the number of cases of accidents in industry and, as a consequence the increasing failure to meet the output targets.

It is therefore essential to develop economic levers to oppose narco-business, including the money laundering. This has been poorly done so far, as no economic measures for combating narcotics have been developed and applied in practice. These tasks require an independent study by economists and lawyers.

The Ecological Dimension

The ecological dimension of measures against drug abuse is linked to the legal regulation that puts restrictions on the preservation and dissemination of drug-bearing plants. This amounts to a ban on their cultivation and destruction of the fields without any damage to the environment. The cultivation of such plants is expected to be limited to specially allotted areas where drug-bearing plants can be sown for medical purposes only.

The Organizational Dimension

The organizational aspect should lead to the implementation of measures which other countries are putting into practice already and which can be translated into reality in this country as well.

The main organizational steps against drug abuse that are underway in the Republic of Azerbaijan include, in particular, actions stipulated by the "National Program of Acton Against Drug Addiction and Narco-business". Endorsed by the Azerbaijani Cabinet on April 14th 1993, this Program provides for the following measures: to build a network of government institutions to combat drug addiction on a nationwide scale, including the prevention of drug-related crimes and the treatment of drug addicts; to sponsor programs of the Ministries of Internal Affairs and of Health, aimed at overcoming drug addiction. These activities should include the planning, and control over the execution of the already planned measures, the intra-departmental and inter-departmental cooperation ensuring the destruction of wild and the illegally grown drug-bearing plants; the security of facilities where drug substances are stored; training of qualified personnel and promoting research in that field; supplying agencies engaged in combating narco-business with material, technical and other resources; conducting an antidrug education involving various public associations, religious communities and other NGOs.

Potential organizational measures include among others the development and approval at the legislative level of a new national program for clamping down on drug addiction in Azerbaijan and the implementation, in keeping with this Program, of a series of international documents: the 1988 UN Convention of Actions Against Illegal Trafficking of Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, the 1992 Teheran Convention and the provisions issued by the UN Commission on Drugs. This national program should take into account the provisions contained in the 1961 Common Convention on Drugs with the amendments introduced into it by the 1972 Protocol of the 1971 Convention of Establishing Control Over Psichotropic Drugs and by the already mentioned Comprehensive Inter-Disciplinary Plan of Action to prevent the spread of drug addiction submitted for discussion at the International conference on drugs held in Vienna in July 1987.

International Dimention

The international dimention of measures against drug abuse is manifested in various legislative, and law enforcement measures at the international level.

In sum, this system of measures covers a totality of numerous, diverse, complementary and carefully outlined programs that have social, legal, criminological, medical, economic, ecological, organizational and international dimensions.


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