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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Coordinated, creative approach needed to stem drug use, speakers say

The growing problem of drug abuse and increasingly creative and sophisticated ways suppliers reach users call for increased cooperation in preventing and stopping substance abuse, said several speakers at a Vatican-sponsored workshop.

More than 50 experts in medicine, science, the judicial system, government and social policy, and pastoral care were invited to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to discuss innovative and effective solutions to drug use, abuse and prevention.

Pope Francis himself requested the special study session, which convened on 23rd-24th November, and he was expected to speak to the gathering the last day.

During the meeting’s opening session, Queen Silvia of Sweden spoke about the importance of focusing on young people and helping them make decisions and cope in ways that promote their well-being. That approach is central to the work of Mentor International, the organisation she founded with the World Health Organization, she explained.

Education and information alone are not enough to keep people from abusing drugs and alcohol, she said; prevention also requires “strengthening societies, families and children to choose healthy lifestyles.”

Sweden has highly restrictive laws aimed at cutting the illegal drug supply and demand, and it has extensive programs for preventing and treating addictions.

Picture: A policeman stands guard during the presentation of 650 kilograms of confiscated cocaine in Cali, Colombia, on 30th January 2014. (CNS photo/Christian Escobar Mora, EPA).