By Massimo Trombin (CEO GPF Brazil)
A 2019 report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that the number of opioid users was at 53 million, up 56% from previous estimates, and that opioids are responsible for two thirds of the 585,000 people who died as a result of drug use in 2017. It is estimated that 11 million people injected drugs in 2017, of which 1.4 million live with HIV and 5.6 million with Hepatitis C.
I was the director of a drugs and rehabilitation center in Italy, near Rome, for three years. During this time, I witnessed the direct impact of the human tragedy caused by pervasive drug problems among relatives and family members of drugs addicts. Now, as the CEO of Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Brazil, we continue to address the challenges drug abuse brings into society through programs that support youth from vulnerable communities and students from both the middle and upper class. Programs have focused on education, information, and achieving an effective prevention system among the youth.
In January 2022, GPF Brazil connected with Mr. Willim Rodigues Abadia, the son of the founder of the Cali cartel in Colombia. William was a lawyer for the cartel and spent five years in prison in the USA. His is now on parole and has become well-known thanks to the NETFLIX series Narcos. William denounces the misinformation and crime celebration presented by this type of romantic Hollywood celebration of crime and drugs. He now expresses a desire to start building a network to counter the drugs world and teach youth about the negative and terrible impact of drugs through his own life experience.
With this partnership, GPF Brazil organized a series of live presentations in both English and Spanish using the ZOOM platform.
The conference was hosted by GPF Brazil and the Federal University for Science, Technology and Education, creating a platform for a live testimony by William and Q&A with 250 university students and teachers. The conference was followed by productive debates among the student and teachers that provoked a greater interest on the impact of drugs in society.
In total, the conference reached more than 800 people through social media. GPF Brazil is now working to set up an extracurricular program with the university in order to invest more in the field of drug abuse education and prevention for students. Following the conference, GPF Brazil was invited by the Federal SICAD, Intervention Service in Addictive Behaviors and Addictions, to analyze the possibility for a national program on drug abuse prevention and education.
Learn more about our peacebuilding programs in Brazil.