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Good afternoon. Thank you for the kind introduction. Before I begin, I would like to take a moment to echo the condolences from President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Secretary Blinken on the passing of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahran. His vision and strong leadership are witnessed here today through this incredible gathering of professionals working together to help improve our global substance use crisis. As the Secretary said yesterday: “We mourn his passing, honor his legacy, and remain committed to our steadfast friendship and cooperation with the United Arab Emirates.”

This ISSUP Conference was a long time in the making. Our hosts and partners have worked tirelessly, through the challenges of working entirely through virtual means, for nearly two years to organize this meeting and bring it to such a productive set of outcomes.

Let me start by saying that I am honored to be here with so many dedicated individuals from all over the world who are focused on preventing and treating those with substance use disorders as well as

supporting those with recovery. It has been a great week, and we owe that to the hard work and determination of every person here. The powerful work from committed individuals like yourself is an example of why we do not ever forget why it is we do what we do.

Your important work over the years, and our work in this conference, is supported by an impressive array of expert organizations. INL is proud to be a partner and supporter of your work. I would like to extend my appreciation and a special thank you to the National Rehabilitation Centre, led by His Excellency Dr. Hamad Al-Ghafri [Ha-mahd al GAH-free], to the Emirati government, and to ISSUP — Joanna Travis-Roberts along with the entire ISSUP team — for bringing this fruitful conference together with such care. ISSUP and our other partners play an important and complementary role in advancing our shared agenda of the delivery of professional care – whose effectiveness is based on evidence and science, that can serve to inform and improve policies on drug control around the world. I want to take a moment to thank each one and recognize its unique and crucial contribution:

· United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, for providing international standards on substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery guidance,

· The Colombo Plan, which advocates for the use of evidence-based practices and empowers substance use disorder professionals through an array of technical assistance,

· The Organization of American States, CICAD, for educating and training a professional cadre of individuals that manage prevention programs and deliver treatment services to their member states,

· The African Union, for creating the first continental wide epidemiological network,

· The Community of Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, which brings together individuals from key sectors in a community to form coalitions to prevent substance misuse and its associated costs, and

· The International Consortium of Universities of Drug Demand Reduction, for advancing study programs focusing on the

transfer and adaptation of science-based knowledge regarding the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders.

And last but not least, to those from our U.S. embassies and to my team in INL, including Brian Morales and the Drug Demand Reduction team, who are working so closely with many of you to reduce demand for illicit drugs and improve treatment and rehabilitation for substance use disorders.

The United States is a proud founding member of ISSUP. Over the years, we have seen this organization grow steadily in membership and bring together the global community to promote training and professionalization in the field. As you know, ISSUP brings people together from a multitude of disciplines — including healthcare workers, educators, researchers, policymakers, and administrators — so we can combine our skills and collectively learn from one another. It is when we work together across these many disciplines that we can create a long-lasting impact to tackle this crisis.

The United States supports ISSUP, and we certainly benefit from it. ISSUP is widely consulted by addiction experts in the United States; in fact, we rank second behind only Brazil as the country with the most visits to the ISSUP website. Last month, President Biden released the new National Drug Control Strategy of the United States, where ISSUP was highlighted as an important institution to develop the American addiction workforce.

ISSUP’s mission is our mission: promotion of evidence-based, high-quality, and ethical policy and practice. As you have seen this week, ISSUP provides opportunities for training, education, and credentialing, and facilitates the collaboration of professionals not only in the physical space, but increasingly in the digital space. ISSUP has been the place for the past two years ensuring that webinars are relevant to the challenges in the work of professionals looking to prevent and treat substance use disorders. In light of the pandemic, that work could not have been more timely. To all the National Chapter members, I would also like to applaud your work and to highlight the efforts you make to ensure that country-level trainings and webinars are possible.

We encourage everyone here to continue to take full advantage of the ISSUP website to continue these important conversations.

The activities you have been involved in this week reflects continuing innovation and commitment, some of which I would like to highlight. Through U.S. Department of State funding, we have been proud to support the creation and dissemination of specialized training programs for preventing and treating those with substance use disorders such as many of you have been part of this week. We also supported the launch this week of the new International Consortium of Quality, which will encourage and enable government entities, quality assurance agencies, drug treatment services, and patients around the world to recognize, improve, and promote quality in drug treatment. We also assembled youth from over a dozen countries, providing them tools to develop effective and innovative drug prevention action plans for implementation in their respective local communities.

The purpose of the trainings is not solely to train clinical staff, but also to prepare those working in the field to seek professional credentials through the Global Center for Credentialing and Certification. This week, many of you have applied to take the exam for the International Addiction Professionals Credential and I wish you the best. This indicates that you want to take your career to the next level and offers recognition of your achievements and commitment to making a difference in the lives of others. We hope many more of you are also looking to become credentialed, have already earned your credentials, or are looking to advance to the next level.

We are all here because we share a common purpose to protect public health and to promote the right tools which we know can lead people into long term recovery. And we need you all now more than ever.

As you know, the opioid crisis has hit the United States particularly hard, with a tragic cost of human lives and wellbeing of our community, and we have a huge stake in our joint work on all facets of this issue. You all have heard the statistics 105,000 killed in the US alone, 36 million world wide suffering from drug use. Each one of those numbers has a name and a tragic story of lost. This is not just a U.S. crisis; this is really a global issue and needs global solutions. Drug use treatment and prevention is a key foreign policy tool for addressing the interconnected threats of drugs, crime, and violence. Drug use is a preventable and treatable disease, and that the drug trade threatens country stability, many countries are requesting technical assistance to improve and develop effective policies aimed at reducing use.

Over time, through the development of the science around addiction and treatment, we have a much better sense of what works and what does not – although of course we are still learning, thanks in large part to the efforts of many of the organizations here. At the U.S. State Department, we are trying to be a voice for these effective, evidence-based, balanced approaches – and for the use of evidence generally – in international meetings and groups where countries discuss and set drug policy. Our voice is more impactful when it is not alone, and fortunately there are many other countries that join us to promote such policies and practices when we get together at the UN, the OAS, and other forums. But there is also still a lot of misinformation informing these policy debates. We hope that you, whether you are government officials or expert practitioners or NGO leaders, work within your government to encourage them to join its voice to ours and others. It is another way to protect and support your patients and other stakeholders.

To close, I will say once more, on behalf of U.S. Department of State, we are very honored to be associated with each and every one of you, with the cause of drug demand reduction, and with supporting the work of all our partners. We look forward to continuing to build partnerships around the world to help tackle this crisis. Thank you for your energy, passion, and commitment to this cause today and every day.

U.S. Department of State

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