Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowski Announces the U.S. Mexico Drug Demand Reduction Conference
Mexico City, July 28, 2009 – The United States and Mexico have a history of cooperative action against mutual threats. In May 1997, the Presidents of the two countries met and signed a Declaration of the United States-Mexico Alliance Against Drugs. One month later the U.S.-Mexico High Level Contact Group was formed to produce a binational strategy focused on attacking drug trafficking organizations, reducing arms trafficking, and interdicting drugs bound for Mexico and the United States, among other issues. These efforts to reduce illegal drug supply and control crime evolved over time, and continue in the context of the partnership established by the Merida Initiative.
Mexico and the United States also instituted a series of conferences to share information, establish lines of communication, and develop best practices to prevent illegal drug use and treat those already abusing illegal drugs. The seventh conference in this series on drug prevention and treatment was hosted by the Government of Mexico in Monterrey in July 2008.
In the United States today, more than 22 million people over the age of 12 need treatment for substance abuse. Mexico has a much smaller population of addicts, but their numbers are growing rapidly and, as in the United States, they are becoming a serious public health concern. Drug consumption presents an acute threat to the health of our nations, and creates an easy target for exploitation by organized criminal groups.
In a continued effort to reduce drug use and the dangers drugs pose, Mexico and the United States will hold the eighth Drug Prevention and Treatment Conference in Washington, D.C. in January 2010. The conference will review the nature of the problem, measures for defining the impact of drug consumption, and methods of treating drug addiction and preventing it from occurring. Also examined will be the role of drug abuse education, including through use of the public media, opportunities to bring drug treatment into the mainstream of public health policy; opportunities for early intervention through routine screening, programs to divert drug abusers from the criminal system; and ways to prevent drug problems from threatening our communities. When the conference has produced its report and recommendations, Mexico and the United States will pursue cooperative action to achieve the objectives identified and focus policy to that end.