Management of substance abuse

Results from the web based consultation on the alcohol strategy

The WHO Secretariat hosted a web-based consultation from 24 October 2019 until 4 November 2019 on a discussion paper dated 21 October 2019. Member States, UN organizations and non-State actors were invited to submit their comments through a dedicated web page or by e-mail. We received 191 submissions. The results are now published on the consultation web page.

Global status report on alcohol and health 2018

21 September 2018 - WHO’s Global status report on alcohol and health 2018 launched 21 September 2018 presents a comprehensive picture of alcohol consumption and the disease burden attributable to alcohol worldwide. It also describes what countries are doing to reduce this burden.

“Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies.

WHO launches SAFER, a new alcohol control initiative

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched SAFER, a new initiative and technical package outlining five high-impact strategies that can help governments to reduce the harmful use of alcohol and related health, social and economic consequences.
SAFER is the newest WHO-led roadmap to support governments in taking practical steps to accelerate progress on health, beat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through addressing the harmful use of alcohol, and achieve development targets.

Strengthening collaboration with UNODC

WHO and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have made official plans for strengthened collaboration on the public health issues relating to drug use around the world. The Memorandum of Understanding signed builds on the ongoing collaboration between the two UN entities, already intensive in the areas of drug dependence treatment and care. Areas for further joint work will include prevention of drug use and drug use disorders, improving access to medicines under international control, addressing the challenges of new psychoactive substances (NPS) and monitoring drug use and its health and social consequences.

fact buffet

Drug use

275 millionpeople are estimated to have used an illicit drug at least once in 2016

World Drug Report 2018

Access to education

37%of the 155 responding countries do not provide access to postgraduate training programmes in treatment of substance use disorders

Educational attainment in prevention and treatment

Pharmacological treatment

50%of the 152 responding countries have methadone available for maintenance treatment of opioid dependence

Pharmacotherapy with methadone

The Global Information System on Alcohol and Health

The Global Information System on Alcohol and Health (GISAH) provides easy and rapid access to a wide range of alcohol-related health indicators. It is an essential tool for assessing and monitoring the health situation and trends related to alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, and policy responses in countries.


This web site contains information pertaining to psychoactive substance use and abuse, and also information about the World Health Organization's projects and activities in the areas of substance use and substance dependence.

WHO is the only agency dealing with all psychoactive substances, regardless of their legal status. WHO’s mandate in the area of psychoactive substance use includes:

  • Prevention and reduction of the negative health and social consequences of psychoactive substance use;
  • Reduction of the demand for non-medical use of psychoactive substances;
  • Assessment of psychoactive substances so as to advise the United Nations with regard to their regulatory control.

Since its founding in 1948, WHO has played a leading role in supporting countries to prevent and reduce the problems due to psychoactive substance use, and in recommending which psychoactive substances should be regulated. In 2000, the Department of Substance Abuse was merged with the Department of Mental Health to form the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, reflecting the many common approaches of management of mental health and substance use disorders.


Latest publications

Resource tool on alcohol taxation and pricing policies

This resource aims at contributing to enhanced knowledge and competence relating to taxation and pricing policies among public health professionals and alcohol-control policy advocates.

The health and social effects of nonmedical cannabis use

This publication aims to present the current knowledge on the impact of nonmedical cannabis use on health.

WHO REFERENCES

WHO Resolutions Related to Substance Use

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WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence

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WHO Expert Committee on Problems Related to Alcohol Consumption

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UN REFERENCES

UN International Drug Control Conventions

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UN Key Declarations

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