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Affecting millions of people worldwide, illicit drug use and abuse can have a wide range of harmful effects on individuals and communities, which may include causing addictions, creating financial distress, ruining health and well-being, upending careers and devastating families. 

Sponsored by the UN, World Drug Day is an annual event that seeks to draw attention to the havoc that drugs can wreak, encouraging individuals to make better, healthier choices for a drug-free world.

History of World Drug Day

Also called the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, World Drug Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1987 and the inaugural event was celebrated the following June 26. The event was founded as an expression of the determination of the UN to cooperate and strengthen their actions to create a society that is free of drug abuse.

The United Nations continues to observe World Drug Day, encouraging individuals, communities, governments, schools and various organizations to not only educate young people about the dangers of drug use, but also promote healthy ways to deal with life’s problems without turning to drugs.

Each year, the organizers from the United Nations offer a theme that helps to provide focus and garner traction for the promotion of World Drug Day. Some of the past themes over the years have included:

  • A Message of Hope: Drug Use Disorders are Preventable and Treatable
  • Value Yourself…Make Healthy Choices
  • Make Health Your ‘New High’ In Life, Not Drugs 
  • Better Knowledge for Better Care 

How to Celebrate World Drug Day

Take a stand against this complex problem and make the world a better, cleaner place by encouraging others to stand together against the devastating effect of drugs. Consider some of these ideas for participating in and getting involved with World Drug Day:

Share Resources About Drug Use

One way to raise awareness and public knowledge about the harmful impact of drugs is to share information, facts and resources related to drug use. This might happen within personal relationships, at workplaces, in schools, through community centers and on social media. Be sure to provide information in a caring way that helps foster a judgment-free zone so people who need help will be encouraged to!

In honor of World Drug Day, consider sharing some of these websites that offer resources:

Host a World Drug Day Event

Teachers, school administrators, community leaders, youth workers and others can get involved with the purpose of educating people of all ages about the harmful effects of illicit drug use. World Drug Day encourages community-led solutions that harness influence to make a greater investment in prevention as well as early intervention. Educational forums, informational fairs, volunteer encouragement, and other community-building can help foster a safe place for conversation, questions and knowing where to get help when needed.


Other events celebrated throughout the year around the same theme include National Alcohol Awareness Month in April, National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in October, and National Recovery Month in September.  

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