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25 years of international research on drugs use/abuse




Drug use/abuse was signalled as a vital challenge for contemporary societies by the international community as long ago as 1988, the year when the United Nations brought together all the agents involved at a series of meetings. The IFCU Centre for the Coordination of Research took part in the first forum of NGOs held in Vienna in 1988, so it has been in on the debates from the start.




Heeding the call of the United Nations, that same year, the CCR set up a first project in Latin America called “Vivir juntos el desafío de la droga” (Living together the challenge of drug abuse)(1988-1992), beginning a new line of research that has continued to the present day. In fact, since then, the CCR has carried out continuous international research projects in this field with university teams in Latin America, the Middle East and South and South-East Asia. 


Over these 25 years, the Center has promoted research that has stood out because of its distinctive and markedly psychosocial approach, managing to establish and consolidate an international network of professionals in this field. In 1998, as a result of a publishing initiative between the Centre and the Fundación Universitaria Luis Amigó (Medellín, Colombia), it also began publishing the journal Análisis, an international scientific publication specialising in problems related to drug use/abuse. With articles in Spanish, English and French, the journal has continued to be published, recently evolving into a free-access digital format. 




In March 2008, an international meeting celebrated 20 years since the NGO Forum on drug addiction in Vienna. This event, entitled “Beyond 2008”, marked the culmination of 13 consultations held throughout the world since 1988, with the participation of more than 500 NGOs (representing 116 countries) and 65 INGOs. The meeting, organised by the NGO Committee on Drugs and Narcotics in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, made it possible to harmonise the NGOs’ positions. Now speaking with one voice, they issued a series of policy recommendations intended to improve cooperation with governmental agents.


For its part, the CCR was represented at the March 2008 meeting by its director, as well as two of its close collaborators, who took part in the sessions speaking for NGOs from Latin America and Asia. At the time, these two collaborators were both local heads of the research project the centre was coordinating on drug use and abuse.


The conclusions of this project were presented at a meeting entitled “Contribution of universities to the public debate on drugs: from local studies to international exchange" (Bangkok, Thailand, 27-29 April 2009). Issues of respect for human dignity and human rights appeared at the heart of the debates ahead of the health and socioeconomic aspects, and these became fundamental commitments in future policies for fighting drug use/abuse. The conclusions clearly pointed to the contradiction between repressive control affecting drug addiction and respect for human rights. 



“Policies and practices concerning drug use/abuse.

Catholic universities in dialogue with political and social agents”


The Bangkok meeting threw light on the need to continue with this line research in greater depth, giving rise to the Centre’s current project, aimed at examining policies and practices on drug use/abuse. With the participation of a total of 9 universities from different parts of Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, various aspects have been examined, including drugs and the institutional picture, health programmes, perceptions of drug use/abuse, current policies, human rights and the resources available.


Although certain problems are locally based, many common features have been observed at supra-regional and intercontinental level, particularly in terms of needs, imbalances and gaps. Faced with this situation, the Centre has suggested bringing together the set of agents involved in order to deal more successfully with the challenge drug use/abuse continues to represent today.





“25 years of international research into drug use/abuse.

Cross-cultural views of 5 key issues”


The Centre celebrated his long-standing involvement in this field

by organising an international conference in collaboration

with the European Monitoring Centre on Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA)


•    Taking advantage of the fact that the Center is celebrating 25 years of studying drug use/abuse,
•    Coinciding with the worldwide debates that are developing on the current paradigm,
•    Coinciding with the end of the Centre’s current research project on the issue,
•    Counting on the results and recommendations of this research study,
•    Considering the difficulties for publicising scientific results beyond the academic sphere,
•    Recognising the contribution researchers can make to the work of the other social and political agents.


Download the team's POLICY BRIEF as well as the RECOMMENDATIONS