Manifesto in favour of Therapeutic Communities

This joint statement was remitted to the United Nations and read publicly during the plenary session of the Commission of Narcotic Drugs in Vienna

This manifesto represents the joint voice of more than 900 nongovernmental organizations that operate in 82 countries and treat more than 700,000 drug-affected people every year.

We all work led by the same dream: to inherit a better world for future generations, deeply rooted in human rights and with more cohesive and healthy populations. Reducing the world drug problem is crucial to achieving this mission.

Unfortunately, even today five out of six people with Substance Use Disorders do not have access to treatment (1). UN offices, Member States and civil society are contributing with enormous effort to prevent and treat drug use disorders, but much remains to be done.

Substance Use Disorders constitute a major public health and security problem worldwide. They are multifactorial disorders associated with a variety of conditions of individual vulnerability and social factors such as poverty, exposure to violence and social exclusion.

The recognized and globally accepted United Nations’ International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders (2) recommend comprehensive and balanced approaches to drug demand reduction, suggesting evidence-based and human rights interventions, such as outreach programs and outpatient and residential treatments. Therapeutic Communities are one of the most common and widely available approaches.

Therapeutic Communities are based on a model of learning communities where the objective, from a biopsychosocial approach, is not only abstinence, but, through a process of continuous and multidimensional change, transiting to a better functionality and quality of life in various levels such as physical and mental health, housing, employment, social participation or caring for their environment. They also prevent the intergenerational transmission of addictive behaviors.

Therapeutic Communities are adapted to provide assistance to specific groups such as women, children, people with HIV and other diseases, mental disorders, offenders or ethnic minorities, with a workforce that combines high professionalism, vocation of service and love for people.We invite the United Nations and the Member States to promote treatments that address multiple areas of the person, involving families and other social networks, with long-term programs and aftercare services to achieve effective integration into society. Likewise, we invite you to review the latest scientific results on models such as Therapeutic Communities, promoting collaborations in research.

In some countries, Therapeutic Communities are not sufficiently available; thus millions of addicted people could be prevented from receiving adequate treatment. At the same time, it is necessary to advance in the destigmatization, demonstrating to the international community that rehabilitation is possible as long as we provide the right help.

Strengthening cooperation among governments, international organizations, NGOs and civil society and persisting in serving people as effectively as possible become the cornerstone to significantly reduce the world drug problem. We are totally committed to it.


  1. World Drug Report (2017)
  2. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s and World Health Organization’s International Standards for the Treatment of Drug Use Disorders.