EINPRESSWIRE // In commemoration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26, European cities were abuzz with activities aimed at raising awareness about the devastating consequences of drug use. Volunteers from the Church of Scientology and the “Foundation for a Drug-Free Europe” took to the streets, as they have been doing for approximately 25 years, to inform tens of thousands of individuals about the detrimental short-term, medium-term, and long-term effects of drugs.
The release of the World Drug Report 2023 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) sheds light on the continued surge in illicit drug supply and the increasingly agile trafficking networks that exacerbate global crises and pose challenges to health services and law enforcement responses.
Key Findings from the UNODC World Drug Report 2023
According to the report(1), new data reveals that an estimated 13.2 million people worldwide engaged in drug injection in 2021, marking an 18% increase from previous estimates. Additionally, global drug use reached over 296 million individuals in 2021, signifying a 23% rise over the past decade. Shockingly, the number of people suffering from drug use disorders has soared to 39.5 million, reflecting a staggering 45% increase over the course of ten years. The report also delves into various critical aspects, including drug trafficking’s impact on the environment in the Amazon Basin, clinical trials involving psychedelics and medical cannabis use, drug use in humanitarian settings, innovations in drug treatment and other services, and the connection between drugs and conflict.
Remarkable Drug Prevention and Education Initiatives in Europe:
In response to the report’s findings and in celebration of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26, various drug prevention activities were organized across Europe. These initiatives aimed to raise awareness among youth, parents, and the wider public about the severe health repercussions of drug use.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these remarkable initiatives:
- Czech Republic: The 19th Cyclo-run for a Drug-Free Czech Republic kicked off from Prague, covering a distance of approximately 1,300 kilometers over ten days and passing through 41 cities. During the event, volunteers had the opportunity to engage with 50 city representatives, enlightening them about the drug situation concerning teenagers and the urgent need for primary drug prevention and education. The campaign successfully educated 8,100 children and distributed 95,000 drug information materials from The Truth About Drugs. The leaders of the initiative were also invited to present their action on national TV Nova.
- France: Volunteers from the French non-profit association “Dites Non à la Drogue – Oui à la Vie” actively participated in drug prevention activities across various cities, including Agen, Angers, Avignon, Chatelaudren, Epinay-sur-Seine, Lannion, Lyon, Maffliers, Marseille, Tregastel, Ploumanach, Perros-Guirec, and Vaux-en-Velin. They spread awareness in streets, shops, pharmacies, and other locations, receiving warm welcomes and support from the public, including law enforcement personnel and even a former drug addict. In addition, the Paris team conducted a public lecture.
- Belgium: Members and volunteers of the Say No To Drugs Belgium association set up information booths in several towns and organized a well-attended public lecture in Brussels. The lecture, titled “The Truth About Drugs,” took place in the Auditorium of the Churches of Scientology for Europe. Additionally, the President of Drug Free Belgium was interviewed on Brussels’ radio station Arabel, discussing the significance of the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and providing crucial information to the public.
- Portugal: In Lisbon, the drug prevention team conducted a large-scale distribution near the iconic Belem Tower, a popular tourist destination. The volunteers reached out to the public, including visitors, to raise awareness about the health-related problems associated with drug use.
- Italy: The Drug prevention “Dico No Alla Droga-Bergamo” team organized the 6th Motogiro to promote a drug-free Italy. Participants, wearing green jackets, embarked on a journey that took them through picturesque locations such as Passo di Zembla, Lovere, Iseo Lake, Riva di Solto, and Sale Marasino. The event lasted four hours and concluded with a warm reception from the President of the association, officials, sponsors, and supporters.
- Austria: The “Sag Nein Zu Drogen” team from Vienna set up an information stand at the Donauinselfest, a popular cultural festival. Volunteers were amazed by the high level of interest from young people in obtaining drug educational brochures from The Truth About Drugs series. Additionally, the team distributed bracelets with the message “Say No To Drugs – Say Yes to Life,” which garnered significant attention and support, including from a social worker and addiction counselor.
- Switzerland: In Chapelle (Fribourg), the drug prevention team organized the 6th Olympiades, which included briefings on drugs and engaging games for approximately 40 participants. Volunteers in Geneva set up a drug information stand at Cornavin station, while the Lausanne team distributed 800 booklets of The Truth About Drugs in the city center. Furthermore, drug education materials were distributed at the Fribourg station. In Ticino, the southern region known for Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano, the “Dico No alla Droga” team actively distributed information and raised awareness about the harmful effects of drug use, receiving appreciation from young people, parents, and the general public.
- Spain: Seventeen volunteers gathered at Puerta del Sol, a bustling location attracting people from Spain and around the world. They distributed booklets to approximately 4,000 individuals and families, aiming to prevent drug crises at a time when substances like marijuana are increasingly portrayed as socially acceptable.
- Greece: Volunteers in the Zappeion area distributed anti-drug information booklets to pedestrians, as well as motorcycle and car drivers. They recommended visiting the website, which provides audiovisual material translated into at least 17 languages.
- Germany: Volunteers from the “Say NO to drugs, say YES to life” initiative organized various information events and distribution campaigns in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Munich, Berlin, and Frankfurt am Main. Their goal was to raise awareness of the drug crisis and educate the public. During these campaigns, nearly 4,000 educational booklets from the “Facts about Drugs” series were distributed to interested citizens. The volunteers received encouragement from the population, including educators and social workers who expressed appreciation for the free availability of educational material. The events highlighted the underestimated dangers of drug use and the deceptive promises made by dealers. One individual shared a personal story of how drug use negatively impacted a family member, emphasizing the importance of education on the adverse effects of drugs.
These impactful initiatives across Europe were supported by the “Foundation for a Drug-Free World,” established in 2006 to distribute educational materials and develop new resources to address the ever-changing landscape of drug trends. As a network of organizations, including the “Foundation for a Drug Free Europe,” they strive to combat drug abuse and promote a drug-free society.
The collective efforts of volunteers, organizations, and communities in Europe underscore the urgent need to prioritize prevention, education, and access to treatment services. By taking a people-centric approach and eliminating stigma and discrimination, society can tackle the drug crisis more effectively. Moreover, law enforcement agencies must adapt to combat agile criminal networks and the proliferation of synthetic drugs. Only through comprehensive and coordinated actions can Europe and the international community address the challenges posed by drug abuse and illicit trafficking, safeguarding the health and well-being of individuals and communities alike.
The “Foundation for a Drug-Free World” serves as the central organization for the “Foundation for a Drug Free Europe” and all its national and local branches. Established in 2006, its primary mission is to distribute educational materials and develop new resources to address the ever-evolving landscape of drug trends. Over time, the Foundation has grown into a global network encompassing approximately 200 local groups around the world. With the invaluable support of the Churches of Scientology and Scientologists, the Foundation ensures the widespread availability of the secular “Truth About Drugs program” and drug education materials, free of charge, on a global scale. Individuals interested in learning more can enroll in Drug-Free World’s free e-courses at drugfreeworld.org/course.
Recognizing the destructive role of drug abuse in the disintegration of society’s fabric, Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard set the foundation for drug prevention and education programs that continue to make a positive impact. By celebrating World Drug Day and supporting initiatives that prioritize prevention and education, Europe takes significant strides towards creating a safer, drug-free future for all.
Furthermore, the Scientology Network features documentaries from the original “Voices for Humanity” series, showcasing how people worldwide are utilizing the Foundation for a Drug-Free World’s Truth About Drugs initiative to effectively address the urgent problem of drug abuse through prevention and education.
The Scientology religion, founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard, traces its origins back to the establishment of the first Church of Scientology in Los Angeles in 1954. Since then, the religion has expanded to include more than 11,000 churches, missions, and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries. The Church of Scientology has achieved religious recognition in numerous countries, including the USA, ECtHR, Spain, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Portugal, Canada, Sweden, Italy, South Africa, and a growing number of nations.(2)