By Robin Gomes
The Vatican says that although prevention of drug abuse is a priority, it is also important to work for the rehabilitation of society’s drug victims in order to give them back their authentic joy of living, so that they do not feel discriminated against or stigmatized but accepted and understood for a path of interior renewal aimed at the search for good.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, the Prefect of Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, made the statement in message for the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on Tuesday.
The theme of the June 26 observance this year - "Listen First - Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe" - is an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use.
Scourge of drug abuse
Noting that in 2015 there were some 250 million drug users, 29.5 million of whom suffered from drug-related problems, Cardinal Turkson drew attention to the considerable damage caused by drug use and abuse not only to health but also to development, peace and security in all regions of the world.
Calling drug abuse an evil and a scourge against human dignity and freedom, he said it must be firmly condemned because it is fed by unscrupulous men who, yielding to the temptation of easy profit, sow death by killing hope and destroying many families.
Reaching out to drug victims
Noting factors that push one into drug addiction such as social exclusion, the absence of the family, social pressure, the propaganda of traffickers and the desire to live new experiences, Cardinal Turkson urged for a culture of solidarity and subsidiarity aimed at the common good; a culture that not only opposes selfishness and the utilitarian and economic logic but leans towards the other, listening in a journey of encounter and relationship with our neighbour, especially when he/she is more vulnerable and fragile with drug abuse.