To commemorate the June 26th, International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the Foundation for a Drug-Free World held an international webinar. Entitled, “The Truth About Drugs – Learn. Collaborate. Empower,” the Foundation brought together drug prevention experts who shared best practices with hundreds of concerned educators, parents and community leaders from 35 countries.
Held the day before the release of the 2021 World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), “Learn. Collaborate. Empower.” could not have been more timely in light of the reported statistics:
• A 22 percent increase in the number of drug users between 2010 and 2019.
• 275 million drug users worldwide, compared to 269 million from the previous report.
• Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more users have turned to the drug markets on the dark web, now a $315 million annual business.
Jessica Hochman, Executive Director of Foundation for a Drug-Free World, emceed the conference that was based on the UNODC theme of the 2021 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, “Share facts on Drugs, Save Lives”, emphasizing the vital role drug education plays in helping people make informed decisions concerning drug use.
The speakers, all experts in drug education and prevention, addressed the vital necessity of primary prevention to revert the UNODC 2021 World Drug Report trends.
Mr. Akira Fujino, President of Drug Abuse Prevention Centre of Japan and a former 25-year UNODC executive, highlighted the need for the general public to receive accurate information on drugs. For example, most people are not informed that cannabis today has up to 15.6 percent THC—a four times increase in the past 24 years. Fujino stressed the importance of prevention and credits the recent containment of the drug rate in Japan to the implementation of the Foundation’s Truth About Drugs campaign in the country: an increase of only 1.8 percent.
Michael DeLeon, founder of the nonprofit group, Steered Straight, Inc., and #1 booked school presenter in America, has lectured to more than 10 million students in centers and schools across the United States since 2007. As a former drug addict, he decided to turn his life around and made it his life’s goal to keep youth safe from the dead end of drugs through drug education. DeLeon spoke of the ravages of the painkiller fentanyl and stressed that the growth of THC and CBD are an American crisis. In answer to the question, “Which drug is the most dangerous?” DeLeon says, “The one you are addicted to.” He sees drug prevention as vital to countering the drug epidemic.
Gregory Nemeth, Executive Director of the Foundation for a Drug-Free World Hungary and the Foundation’s Central European Coordinator, shared what he has learned through a decade of drug education and coordinating volunteers. Through the work of the Foundation volunteers, they have built an alliance of 520 member organizations dedicated to drug prevention across Central Europe.
Dr. Greg Londot, Parent Teacher Association Teacher of the Year awardee and experienced public school drug educator from Phoenix, Arizona, spoke of his use of The Truth About Drugs Education Package in a classroom setting. Dr. Londot shared stories from his students including one living with their crack-cocaine-addicted parents and remembered the sadness of losing kids he personally knew to drug overdose. This drives his passion for drug education. He created “Drug-Free Fridays”—a day each week when students may safely share intimate experiences about drugs and learn about drug use through the Truth About Drugs curriculum.
In concluding the webinar, Foundation for a Drug-Free World International Executive Director, Jessica Hochman, encouraged those attending to use the free online resources available at www.drugfreeworld.org. The popular Truth About Drugs eCourse is a series of individual interactive courses covering the most widely abused drugs. Each course provides basic facts about one of the most commonly used drugs. They include stories from real people, and are designed to empower viewers with factual information. The Truth About Drugs eCourse is free to all visitors at www.drugfreeworld.org/course and is available in 20 languages.
The Foundation is celebrating its 15th Anniversary of service devoting its resources to teaching the Truth About Drugs to youth around the world. The Foundation is sponsored by the Church of Scientology and its members and provides the materials and program free of cost to educators and drug prevention advocates, schools, community groups, law enforcement and government institutions worldwide.
The webinar can be viewed on the Foundation for a Drug-Free World International Facebook: www.facebook.com/DrugFreeWorldInt.